Traditional leaders told to fight GBV


Sindiso Mhlophe

TRADITIONAL leaders should join the fight against soaring cases of gender-based violence (GBV) in the wake of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic- induced national lockdown, Heal Zimbabwe Trust has said.

This comes as the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Gender Protocol Barometer 2020 recently revealed that 68 percent of women in Zimbabwe have experienced gender-based violence, while 46 percent of men have perpetrated violence against women.

According to Heal Zimbabwe Trust, women in Gutu District, Masvingo, expressed concern over the reluctance by some traditional leaders in the area to help in the fight GBV. This came out of a training workshop on conflict mapping and analysis.

“Issues that came out during the training include how in most cases traditional leaders, mostly village heads, play down cases of GBV which have been on an increase since the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown.

“One woman once reported a case of spouse abuse to a local traditional leader, but was told that women must be disciplined so that they stay in line. This was even after the woman had exhausted other means such as engaging close relatives so that they could address the problem that she was facing.

“Closely related to this is the high cost of living that has seen most women not reporting GBV cases to the police due to lack of transport fares to get to the nearest police stations. This has seen some women not reporting cases to the police,” HZT said.

Meanwhile, the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (Wcoz) has called for a gendered approach to all Covid-19 preparedness, response and recovery efforts by the government to ensure that women and young girls are protected.

“We continue to bring to the fore the issue of safeguarding women and girls’ rights during Covid-19. This is anchored on adequate representation of women in decision-making positions with Covid-19 response structures.

We emphasise that women’s solutions should be informed by women’s experiences and lived realities.

“We emphasise that women’s solutions should be informed by women’s experiences and lived realities. We therefore highlight lack of adequate women’s representation in health structures, particularly taking into consideration the recent substantive appointments made in the ministry of Health and Child Care,” Wcoz said.

The women’s organisation further expressed concern over the public’s increasing disregard of guidelines set to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

“Reports from our networks who have been monitoring the Covid-19 situation in their communities generally point to the fact that although the pandemic is gaining strong foothold within communities, the majority of the public continue to demonstrate high levels of disregard to Covid-19 safety guidelines such as physical and social distancing.

“We remind the government that the law alone is not an adequate driver of social change and call upon the government to strengthen and reinvigorate efforts to raise awareness. The negligent behaviour displayed in residential areas, both urban and rural, would suggest two things, either that the majority of citizens believe they are immune to Covid-19 or that they are simply fatigued with Covid-19 measures,” Wcoz said.

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