GURUVE district in Mashonaland Central province has over the past few weeks witnessed a surge in cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) amongst married couples.
By Michael Gwarisa In Guruve
Speaking in an interview with HealthTimes on the sidelines of a National AIDS Council (NAC) Editors and Station Managers tour of the province, Guruve District AIDS Action Committee chairperson, Mr Starves Nyangwaru said the GBV was emanating from disputes related to misappropriation of tobacco sales funds mainly by the husbands.
In terms of GBV here in Guruve especially looking at this time when famers are now making some money from tobacco sales, you find that there has been an increase in the prevalence of Gender Based Violence amongst married couples,” said Mr Nyangwaru.
He added that new GBV cases were highest in farming communities where people were allocated land during the land reform program.
“You find that men spend the whole year preparing for the tobacco season and they till the land and tender the crops together with their wives and families but when it comes to enjoying the proceeds and profits from the sales, the men go to the sales floors on their own.
“Instead of heading straight home after getting paid, the men instead drink bear here at the Growthpoint and they end up losing the money to thieves. When they get home to try and explain how they would have lost the money, violence ensues and the men end up beating their wives for asking or demanding them to be accountable.”
Mr Nyangwaru also pleaded with Agriculture Research Extension (AGRITEX) officers to incorporate GBV lessons in their farmers training so as to curb to recurrence of violence amongst married couples during tobacco selling periods.
“Farmers need training on how to manage their finances and if possible, AGRITEX officers should teach ways of resolving conflict rather than resorting to GBV. If possible, wives should accompany their husbands to the floors to sale tobacco to avoid these issues.
“As NAC, at district level, we are trying to do campaigns through platforms such as the Sister to Sister program, through Dramas and other edutainment programs to raise awareness on GBV. As NAC, we are doing enough. We have male and female motivators who work in the wards to reduce GBV. We also work with the Ministry of Women Affairs who take care of those who would have been abused to safe shelters,” added Mr Nyangwaru.
Meanwhile, Guruve Sister to Sister Program Mentor, Memory Chagonda said there have also been an increase in suicide attempts due to increased GBV cases emanating from tobacco sales related misunderstandings.
“I stay in Ward 17 which is a tobacco farming area. What happens is that if people do not agree on how to use money after selling their tobacco, they may resort to violence. Of late there have been incidences of people who have downed poisons and attempted suicides and all this is emanating from misunderstandings from tobacco proceeds.
“At a clinic in our ward, we had a field day recently and information was shared indicating that there have been at least 10 admissions of people who had drank poison trying to kill themselves just because they would have fought or had a misunderstanding as a result of the money from tobacco. At times the men spend everything without even buying anything for the family and this results in conflict,” said Mrs Chagonda.
The Zimbabwean government this year decentralized tobacco sales to avoid concentrations of people and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
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