Imprisoned GBV offenders to receive special rehab

MUTARE - Imprisoned gender-based violence offenders will soon be targeted for specialised rehabilitation in new interventions meant to rid the country of the vice, a UN agency has revealed.

UNFPA gender coordinator Verena Bruno told a media advocacy workshop in Mutare this week that while interventions have been largely focused on psychosocial support for survivors and prosecution of offenders, there was a new thrust to rehabilitate them.

The improved intervention will also target potential perpetrators to prevent them from being offenders.

“We’re working on defining the programme but we will soon be targeting gender-based violence perpetrators in prison ... we will also target potential perpetrators in a preventive way so that they do not become perpetrators,” Bruno said.

The programme will be aimed at the reduction and elimination of different types of gender-based violence, modifying sexist and discriminatory conduct that is often at the heart of violence across sexes as well as preventing relapsing.

There is a growing appreciation that people with a history of violent behaviour can benefit from understanding the triggers of violence towards other people as well as make use of skills for the management of disputes and conflicts without violence and aggression through appreciating partner relations so as to manage or express their feelings in a constructive manner.

The 2015 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey shows that gender-based violence is a major problem in the country with 35 percent of women experiencing abuse.

Bruno said a breakdown of this abuse reveals that 14 percent of women aged between 15 and 49 reported having experienced sexual violence while 25 percent reported experiencing physical violence since the age 15.

The comprehensive survey notes that 45 percent of ever married women reported experiencing physical, sexual and emotional violence by their current or most recent partner.

She, however, said government was doing its best to contain the problem and her organisation was only coming in to strengthen its work whose foundation was set by clearly defining gender-based violence as a crime in the Constitution.

“There is willingness and capacity to deal with gender-based violence and we are only coming in to strengthen that capacity ... the Constitution defines gender-based violence as a crime,” Bruno said.

Bruno said the major issues that make women vulnerable to abuse were social norms that make men feel that they have a higher status and overly assertive to the point of violence.

She also blamed lack of information and access to education on the issues of violence, rights as well as women’s economic dependence on men.

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