PARLIAMENTARIANS have called on the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to realign its curriculum and make it compulsory for every police officer to have Victim Friendly Unit (VFU) training so as to increase efficiency in dealing with Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases.
By Michael Gwarisa
Speaking during a Policy Makers Dialogue meeting in Harare organised by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) Vice President, Honorable Lynette Karenyi said Integrating VFU training into police training would ensure survivors of GBV get closure and comfort after justice would have been served.
The issue of the Victim Friendly Unit is key. I think is a good idea to lobby for every police officer to go under training as this will help work on their attitude when dealing with GBV cases. At times you find that the attitude police officers give to those who would have come to report GBV cases or even witnesses is not friendly at all.
“You find that when a child goes to Childline, he or she gets better treatment and response and is comfortable to share her experiences with Childline. We believe if they get training, there will be better placed to handle GBV issues. If they are trained, I am sure they will be able to help victims of GBV. I am sure people want to report abuse cases to the police but the treatment they get there might be pushing away,” said Hon Karenyi.
According to the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey (ZDHS) 2010-11 at least 42% of women in Zimbabwe have experienced physical, emotional and sexual violence in their lives.
Mutare Central Legislators, Hon Innocent Gonese also said there was need to increase funding for social services and Gender Based Violence related programs in the country to ensure the nation does not rely solely on donor funding in all its interventions.
“The biggest problem we have in this country is that of funds disbursement. You find that we can advocate for increase in budgetary allocation but at the end, treasury is delaying release of funds and this poses a challenge.
“Treasury is not releasing funding on time. It is now upon us as parliament to ensure the monies are released. In most cases, GBV cases just die a natural death just because the witnesses fail to show up at courts and in the process, justice is denied. If GBV programs are funded properly, even witnesses’ travel can be smooth and justice will be served,” said Honorable Gonese.
Gutu East Member of Parliament, Hon Berita Chikwama said police officers have a negative attitude against witnesses to GBV cases resulting in most cases being ignored or discarded.
“The attitude of police is very repulsive, no one wants to be a witness to any case be it GBV or rape. The police start tossing you around as if you have committed a crime.
“Even if one sees a person being raped, they would rather not say, lest they risk being victimized and dragged around by members of the police force. There is need to train these guys on how to deal with witnesses in a subtle way otherwise more and more GBV cases will go unsolved,” said Hon Chikwama.
Meanwhile, Manicaland province is among some of high GBV prevalence provinces, with Districts such as Mtasa in Hauna being one of the highly affected as most perpetrators easily escape into neighbouring Mozambique without facing justice.
Presenting at the same meeting, Family Aids Care Trust (FACT) GBV shelter manager from Mtasa District, Nyasha Gachange said police in her areas were hugely incapacitated as at times they fail to pursue c on foot as most stations in the district do not have vehicles or the vehicles would have broken down.
“Mtasa GBV shelter opened its doors to survivors of GBV in December of 2017, the shelter offers assistance to all cases of GBV and depending on the nature of the case, clients may be admitted or offered walk-in services.
“But if there is risk, and person needs to be admitted, we admit. Male clients are also assisted but we don’t not admit them. The shelter has strong linkages with the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), Judiciary Service Commission (JSC), Victim friendly Unit among others,” said Gachange.
The GBV shelter at Hauna was established through support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). By the end of the year 2018, the Hauna GBV friendly shelter helped a total of 116 GBV cases while in 2019, from January to date, they have helped 102 clients.
Ladies from Umguza District in Matebeland also lamented the failure by police to handle GBV cases in the area.