IN a move that is set to boost confidence in Zimbabwe’s criminal justice system, at least 55 percent of Sexual offenders and perpetrators of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Manicaland province and some parts of Masvingo have been convicted since the year 2019 to date.
By Michael Gwarisa in Mutare
The cases were facilitated and processed through the assistance of the Family AIDS Caring Trust Zimbabwe (FACT) legal division in the districts FACT is implementing the Children Tariro and DREAMS projects namely Makoni, Mutare, Chipinge, Buhera and Gutu.
Speaking during a media tour briefing in Mutare, Mr Trevor Nyatsanza, and the FACT Zimbabwe Legal Coordinator said in most cases, family members and close acquaintances are the abusers.
In 2021, 960 Gender Based Violence Survivors were given pre-trial legal counseling and support. Since 2019 to date, 1,769 cases of GBV survivors have been reported to the police through our facilitation. Of the 1,769, 1,167 led to arrest of perpetrators. From that number, 736 have been prosecuted so far while some are still pending. 357 have been convicted.
“Currently we are saying 55% of the cases that we facilitated reporting and were processed through the court system, 55% so far have led to convictions of perpetrators. We need to build community confidence in the justice and legal system. It’s not good enough to say we have given you clinical care so be on your own or go to court on your own,” said Nyatsanza.
He added that they were working to ensure all pending cases are attended to and justice is rendered to survivors of all forms of violence. He also added that most survivors of Sexual violence were not reporting abuse within 72 hours and they were not getting their Post-Exposure Prophylaxes (PeP) to prevent HIV infections.
“The first survey we conducted shows that 88% of survivors of GBV were abused by a close family member. That is immediate family, your father, mother etc and family members and close acquaintances. The second survey that we conducted reveals that 13% face stigma, 26% is because of being threatened by perpetrators and 46% are failing to report abuse cases and are failing to access critical emergency services in time because the family is the one preventing reporting.
“The third survey that we conducted on Child marriages indicates that the 15 to 17 age group is the one where people mostly get into child marriages and most perpetrators are within the 18 to 25 age groups. Most perpetrators are at least 10 years older that the survivors. The leading cause of child marriages was mainly poverty.”
Meanwhile, FACT launched a Community Initiative in July 2020 in a bid to strengthen capacity of religious and faith leaders to deal with cases of GBV and various forms of violence against women and girls.
“The Faith community has deep institutional capacity as well as insight into what happens in the community. The faith community is well trusted by the inhabitants in that area. We conducted 25 dialogues reaching to about 645 community leaders and other civic leaders within the six districts. 900 chief and headmen were reached especially during COVID-19.”