THERE has been an increase in Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in areas where substance abuse is rampant especially during the COVID-19 lockdown period, the Zimbabwe Community Health Initiative Research (ZiCHIRe) has said.
By Michael Gwarisa
Speaking during a virtual meeting to mark the 2019 World Population Day, ZiCHIRe Programmes Manager, Mr Walter Chikanya said they had launched a campaign dubbed “Shifting Your Mindset” as a means of raising awareness around drug abuse and mental health in communities such as Mbare, Hopley and Mabvuku.
As an organization, what we have started to do is that we have got a campaign that we are calling “Shifting Your Mindset” which is looking at issues to address dug abuse among youths and rightfully I can say Crystal Meth or Gukka Makafela is rampart in communities that we have been working in. We have had quite a number of drug abuse campaigns that are aimed at creating awareness and also addressing mental health issues that are coming due to drug abuse.
“We are meeting in communities such as Mbare, Hopley and Mabvuku. I must say Mbare has been quite striking because this is where we started the campaign and we realized that the Drug Lords have besides just pushing drugs, they are recruiting young girls and in the process, it also involves sexual abuse to these young girls. We are seeing an increase and linkage between drug abuse and GBV as drug lords are looking at using young girls to then get more clients to come and use their drugs,” said Mr Chikanya.
He added that even though they do not have the actual numbers in terms of how big the drug abuse has risen during the pandemic, evidence on the ground points to a serious drug abuse problem.
“Gukka Makafela has been quite addictive, once young person starts using, they get hooked up and then they bring others and more girls. In terms of the percentage, currently, we are conducting a survey which we will be able to share with the rest of the country very soon.