Organisations sign MOU to fight GBV against women with disabilities

THE Memorandum of Understanding supporting coalition building between Organisations of Persons with Disabilities and the Women’s Movement in addressing Intersectional Discrimination signed on Wednesday seeks to engage traditionalists and faith based organisations.

By Kudakwashe Pembere

Women Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ) National Coordinator Ms Sally Dura told journalists during the signing ceremony that they will be collaborating with traditional leaders and faith based organisations in coming up with ways of tackling SGBV against women and girls with disabilities.

Our MOU is anchored on building strong partnerships in line with Sustainable Development Goals. So there is partnership with faith based networks. We have the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, EFZ, we also have UDACIZA which is a collective of apostolic sects. And interestingly, there are developments as well. We have an association of a collective of apostolic sect.

“With the traditionalists, we are also are going to engage community leaders so that there will partnerships and we will be working with the chiefs council, the traditional leaders have made commitments in issues to end child marriages,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Development, Director of Disability Affairs Dr Christine Peta said women with disabilities are being sexually abused by apostolic sect healers and traditional healers.

“There is a huge problem here in Zimbabwe of women and girls with disability facing SGBV. We are seeing prophets from the apostolic sect telling women with what we call mental disabilities that if they want to be healed, they should sleep with them. The claim to have heard from the spirit that sex is the only way for one to be healed and made whole again without disability,” she said.

She said these healers recommend sexual intercourse as an intervention for a disabled person.

“They say if a woman wants to get out of the wheelchair, they should be slept with . This is happening in the apostolic sect and traditional healing sector. When a woman or a girl is disabled, relatives first consult with the apostolic sect and traditional healers asking why this happened. In our research, we have found that the healing process at these places is shrouded in SGBV,” Dr Peta said.

The signing of this MOU came with support from the European Union-funded Spotlight Initiative, stakeholders who included feminist organisations and OPDs that drafted it during a brainstorming workshop held on 10 March 2022 in Harare, according to UNESCO.

“However, there has been little interaction between the women’s movement and OPDs in the fight against intersectional discrimination. To ensure that the interaction between these two is enhanced, UNESCO will continue to foster the coalition building between the Organisations of Persons with Disabilities and the women’s movement in Zimbabwe to ensure joint advocacy for disability rights and gender equality during the
implementation of the Spotlight Initiative Phase 2.

“The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), along with the Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Zimbabwe (FODPZ) and National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH) will drive this coalition building by facilitating and creating platforms for learning opportunities and exchange of experience in lobbying, advocacy and policy dialogue,” said UNESCO.

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