Musasa Project Launches GBV Braille Publication

IN a move to promote inclusive access to Gender Based Violence (GBV) services as well as bridge existing gaps to accessing services, Musasa Project has produced a Braille publication to cater for women and girls with visual impairment and those with low vision.

By Michael Gwarisa

Publication of the two paged pamphlet was made possible through support from the United Nations Population Fund in Zimbabwe (UNFPA-Zimbabwe), the United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the program “Increasing access to GBV information and services to persons with Disabilities.”

In an interview with HealthTimes, Musasa Project Advocacy Officer, Rotina Mafume Musara said they had noted some existing inequalities and gaps towards accessing GBV services and as a result, some women especially those with various disabilities were failing to report abuse on time.

Musasa is committed to leaving no-one behind in GBV prevention and response interventions. It is for this reason that the organisation is making steps to deliberately strengthen disability inclusion. We have shelters that accommodate survivors from all walks of life and it is important for Musasa to ensure that the facilities are accessible to persons with disability to avoid stigma and discrimination of PWD.

“In 2020, Musasa assisted a total of 1061 women and girls with disabilities. It is through this interface that Musasa also identified gaps in GBV response hence the need to rectify these challenges in order to ensure a sensitive and disability inclusion centred approach. Survivors that have come in contact with Musasa have highlighted how they failed to report on time due to limited knowledge on available GBV services,” said Mafume.

She added that most GBV information across the country was not translated to braille or sign language and this project has come through to create information packages that are disability inclusive.

“These will be distributed across all Musasa operational districts so that there is targeted information dissemination for persons with disability. The support from UNFPA, UNPRPD, and the Multi- Partner Trust Fund made this project possible. Our total reach for Women with Disabilities is 614 for 2021.

“In most interventions what is often masked as “good intentions” are, in fact, acts of serious discrimination and violence that is why Musasa works with PWD and disability organisations to put in place interventions based on their specific needs. The intersection between disability and gender-based violence is of particular concern because some forms of violence against women with disabilities have remained very high,” she said.

Women with disabilities around the world experience much higher levels of physical, sexual, and psychological violence, for longer periods of time and with worse physical and mental outcome as a consequence of violence than women without disabilities.

“Women and girls with disabilities in Zimbabwe also continue to face intense violence and feedback has shown that patriarchy, assumed powerlessness by perpetrators and social norms perpetuate this violence. One of the challenges that PWD continue to face is the barrier to access protection and legal services due to lack of information, structures and systems that are not friendly to survivors with disability.”

According to the previous Demographic Health Survey (DHS), one in every three women
in Zimbabwe aged 15 to 49 has experienced physical violence, and about 1 in 4 women
have experienced sexual violence, since the age of 15.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is currently implementing the Spotlight Initiative, a global multi-year partnership initiated by the European Union and the United Nations, in partnership with Governments, to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030. Musasa project amongst other organisations are implanting the Spotlight Initiative in various districts across the country.

Launched in Zimbabwe in 2019, the implementation of the programme is led by the United Nations Resident Coordinator, in partnership with six UN agencies – namely ILO, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN WOMEN, the European Union Delegation and civil society organizations.

With a funding commitment of USD30 million from the EU, the Spotlight Initiative in Zimbabwe is being implemented in five provinces across Zimbabwe, including Mashonaland Central, Harare, Manicaland, Mashonaland West, and Matabeleland South under the following six pillars: Legislative and Policy Framework; Strengthening Institutions; Prevention and Social Norms; Delivery of Quality Services; Data Availability and Capacities, and Women’s Movement and Civil Society.

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