TRADITIONAL leaders have agreed that there are some harmful cultural practices that should be abolished if the vision to end Gender Based Violence (GBV) is to be realised.
By Patricia Mashiri
These abusive cultural norms include chiramu (i, kugara nhaka (wife inheritance) and kuzvarira (marrying off young girls) among others. The traditional leaders accepted that culture is dynamic and therefore people should not be confined to past practices in which some of them were against women’s wishes and were abusive.
Speaking during a GBV dialogue led by Sexual Reproductive Health Rights Africa Trust (SAT), Chief Edmond Munyawiri highlighted that they were dropping some cultural norms which were abusing women in their courts.
We accept that some practices that were done by our fore- fathers are wrong and we are in the process of correcting those bad practices. Chiramu is one practice which violated women’s rights and we are no longer supporting it at our traditional courts.
“Kuzvarira and also kugara nhaka was done in the past but now we cannot get people who never had a sexual interest in each other to marry. One of the two parties will be suffering either sexually, emotionally or physically. Therefore, we should be moving with time so that we help reduce the spread of GBV,” Chief Munyawiri said.
Chief Munyawiri added that young people should be taught about their culture and have an appreciation as it helps curb GBV. He also pointed out that GBV is caused by disrespect and misunderstanding.
Amai Makopa, Chief Makopa’s wife however weighed in saying in as much as there were traditional harmful practices that should be done away with, there were some modern ways of doing things which expose young people to abuse and Sexual and Gender Based Violence.
“If it was possible, we would turn back the hands of time and go back to that time when elders would sit down with children or grandchildren teaching the basics about life and sexual reproductive health. It was taboo back then for a 10 year or 15-year-old girl to indulge in sex.
“The problem with us today is that we have lost our culture which valued virginity and discouraged young girls from indulging in sex before marriage. These days children are learning about reproduction very early and most of them are learning through watching Television hence it’s difficult to control these children,” said Amai Makopa.
Statistics show that during the Corona virus pandemic induced lockdown, there was a large number of GBV cases as many people were confined in one place.
Raymond Mazhambe, SAT youth officer said the research carried out by SAT showed that violence against women and children and in particular domestic violence has intensified since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, leading the United Nations to name violence against women and girls a shadow pandemic
“During times of crisis such as COVID-19 women and girls face an increased risk of exposure to gender-based violence. Although gender-based violence is known to be pervasive in all settings, emergencies disrupt existing protective structures and create multiple circumstances that can lead to violence, abuse and exploitation. COVID-19 pandemic has created a global emergency of multiple dimensions.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, in Zimbabwe, reports of violence increased by 38.5%, physical violence increased by 43.8%, emotional abuse rose by 80.3%and economic violence rose by 42.4%. Zimbabwe reported an increase in the number of violence against women and children at health centres,” Mazhambe said.
The report also noted that Musasa Project reported a significant increase in gender-based violence from 500-600 per month to 764 cases in eleven days due to lockdown measures. During the same period, the Police reported receiving 193 cases between 30 March 2020 and 13 April 2020 which was way below their normative trend.