'Gender-based violence rife'

HARARE - Gender-based violence (GBV) against women remains rife in the country, with one in two women without education experiencing spousal violence, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Zimbabwe 2017 report.

In the recently released report, overall, 14 percent women reported having experienced sexual violence, while 39 percent of women who have experienced physical or sexual violence have sought help.

The UNFPA gender programme is implemented under the Health Development Fund and the National Programme on Zero Tolerance for GBV 365.

Under the GBV 365 programme, the main focus is to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in both development and humanitarian settings.

The programme has created partnerships with churches to educate congregants and curb incidences of domestic violence.

“A total of 66 religious leaders were capacitated to engage their congregants to prevent GBV and child marriages as well as build their capacity to respond and encourage reporting on GBV and accessing appropriate service providers,” states the report.

“Thereafter, individual church leaders formed Congregational Hope Action Teams which developed annual actions that outlined specific actions for the church in raising awareness of GBV issues.”

According to the report, the Women and Youth ministry was last year supported to set up an online portal for GBV data.

Zimbabwe has set up a number of legal frameworks such as the Bill of Rights enshrined in the Constitution, the Domestic Violence Act and provisions in the Criminal Code, all in a bid to protect women and men against GBV.

However, despite the existence of these instruments, sexual harassment and gender-based violence in public spaces continue to be rampant.

The UNFPA has been working with local communities and tertiary institutions to raise awareness on GBV, child marriages and to provide information on where to access necessary services.

Key commemoration days such as the 16 Days of Activism, International Day of the Girl Child and the International Day of Rural Women, have been utilised to raise awareness on GBV.

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