A campaign to eliminate Gender Based Violence (GBV) at community level was today (11/12/19) launched in Epworth, Harare amidst indications that government and partners are in the process of setting up a One-Stop Centre for GBV survivors in the same area.
By Michael Gwarisa
Speaking at the launch of the Speakout: No Longer Silent Campaign in Epworth, Ministry of Women Affairs, Community Small and Medium Enterprise Development Provincial Development Officer Mr Ernest Chimbodza said the only way communities can end GBV is by uniting and exposing acts of Sexual Gender Based Violence nature.
The launch of the Speakout campaign here in Epworth comes a day after we ended the 16 Days against GBV campaign. Let me emphasise that the campaign against GBV should not just happen during the 16 days but throughout the whole 365 days of the year because GBV continually happens.
“It happens in private and public spaces. Sexual violence is rampart in our communities. Whenever there is consent, there is no problem, the problem only comes when one forces him or herself on someone. That now is called rape or indecent aggravated assault. Let it be known that it is also a crime to marry or marry off an underage girl, it is a form of GBV and violation of a girl’s rights,” said Mr Chimbodza.
He added that sexual harassment was also an increasing occurrence especially in workplaces and people should speak out whenever someone is groped or touched indecently.
“There is indecent assault or sexual harassment. At times someone just touches your buttocks or any other body part without your consent. Even at home, we should teach our children about “Don’t Touch” body parts so that they report whenever something of that nature happens.
“Report, keep evidence and the culprit should be brought to book. You should also take notes when something is done against so that you do not forget when you present your report to the police. The government has enacted laws to protect citizens against GBV. These include the Domestic Violence Act Chapter 5.1.6. There is also the constitution which speaks to the legal age of majority and legal age a person qualifies to enter into a marriage union.”
He added that government through partnerships with organisations such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and others have commenced roll out of one-stop centres for GBV in a bid to end GBV in communities.
Trocaire Zimbabwe Country Director, Sarah McCan said communites especially religious communities have a role to play in ending SGBV at community level.
“We know that we must address the issue of GBV every day, 365 days of the year. The 16 days are just to address the issue but we must continue the fight throughout the year.
“GBV prevents young women and girls from accessing education, health and from decision making in the highest end of the community. Survivors of violence often face stigma and social ostrecization. It is critical to note that the development of Zimbabwe, the development of society and the development across the world cannot be achieved without responding to GBV and its causes,” said Sarah.
She added that speaking out to end violence must be everyone’s responsibility and faith leaders and religious leaders can play a key role in ensuring GBV is nipped in the bud.
Meanwhile, Methodist Church in Zimbabwe Harare East Archibishop Ncube said the church should play a leading role in teaching and preaching about the dangers and the bad side of GBV.
The SPEAKOUT!! campaign is aimed at reducing the impact and social acceptance of Sexual and Gender Based Violence(SGBV) in churches, faith spaces and the wider community. The campaign seeks to break the culture of silence around issues of violence. It will mainly be rolled out in churches and faith spaces but will also reach the wider communities.
The campaign is spearheaded by the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian denominations(ZHOCDs), an umbrella body of the four main religious networks (Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference-ZCBC, Zimbabwe Council of Churches-ZCC, Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe-EFZ and Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe UDACIZA)
The leaders encourage people, especially survivors to talk about SGBV and rally their fellow religious leaders to take concrete steps to prevent SGBV or respond to it in a survivor friendly manner
Districts launches have already happned in Bulawayo, Mutare, Kwekwe and Epworth. According to statistics, seven out of 10 women will experience a form of violence in their life time while 46% of men admit to having committed violence against their partners. One in three girls is married off before she turns 18, often to older men.
Many of the women and girls never report the abuse, mostly because of culture and religion. There is limited skills within the church and faith spaces to prevent and respond to issues of sexual and gender based violence.