KATSWE Sisterhood, has ramped up efforts to reduce Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in one of Harare’s SGBV hotspot, Epworth through partnering religious organisations, schools and community advocates to raise awareness on the subject.
By Michael Gwarisa
The organisation is also working in collaboration with ministry of Women Affairs, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Trocaire, Swedish government, The Adult Rape Clinic (ARC), JF Kapnek Trust and the National Aids Council (NAC) to manage SGBV issues in the area.
Speaking during a Girls and Women symposium in Epworth, Katswe Sistahood programmes officer, Otilia Chinyani said the issue of SGBV requires everyone’s participation.
Ending SGBV is possible, it requires a multi stakeholders approach where everyone plays a part towards the attainment of a violent free community.
“We launched the Speakout against SGBV campaign last year in December and I am glad communities are already speaking out,” she said.
Speaking during a panel discussion on the side-lines of the symposium, Ministry of Women Affairs, Community Small and Medium Enterprises Provincial Officer Mr Ernest Chimboza said poverty was the major driver of SGBV in Epworth and government was moving in to set up safe markets for women and girls to curb SGBV.
“To end the problem of SGVB, as government, we are setting up empowerment and livelihoods programs where we are teaching women and girls to venture into income generating projects. Once someone is economically empowered, we believe they can stand and fight for their rights as well.
“So this is one way we are working with communities to end SGBV. As for Epworth, through assistance from partners, we are hearing that most women and girls are being abused at their vending stalls (Musika). Here in Epworth in the Overspill area, we are piloting a project for the constructing of what is called a safe market for women under the safe cities program in order to ensure women operate in a violence free environment,” said Mr Chimboza.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) Liaison Officer, Reverend Samuel Sifelani said the church was also a culprit in the SGBV equation.
“It is true, Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) knows no boundaries and is also prevalent in churches and communities. SGBV is rampart is the church, that’s where most people are. However, our goal is to ensure the church becomes a refuge and a place of hope for people. We have various programs we have moved so far as a way of ending SGBV in Churches.
“First, we are working on ensuring that that pastors undertake GBV related courses at theological colleges so that they understand the issues around gender roles. We have also roped in the issue of counselling at college level to ensure preachers of the word of God are also equipped with counselling skills,” said Rev Sifelani.
He added that prayer does not end SGBV but proper counselling and knowledge could go a long way in ending SGBV in religious circles.