‘Gender-based violence, a pandemic within pandemic’-WCoZ Bindura chair

By Nhau Mangirazi

Bindura- Mandi Piyasi is Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) Bindura chapter chairperson who has witnessed heart-rendering effects of gender-based violence (GBV) affecting the farming and mining communities in Mashonaland Central province, 85 kilometers out of the capital Harare.

A gender champion, she is not losing hope to be part of a solution to problems hurting social fabrics. 

‘‘We have witnessed all forms of GBV among young women due to Covid-19 pandemic. This is worse among young married girls under forced marriages. It is a menace as national Covid-19 lockdowns failed to help without better communication among families and communities as they were idle,’’ she said.

A Stop One Centre at Bindura provincial hospital is now helping victims with counseling, medical and victim-friendly unit facilities, and other service providers.

Gillian Chinzete, a member of the GBV cluster based in Madziva within the same province agreed that women and young girls are enduring the effects of Covid 19.

‘‘Let it be known that women in marginalized communities are enduring the burden of family care that is unrecognized in our communities fueling GBV statistics locally, nationally, regionally and internationally, ’’ she said.

Harare-based GBV survivor Christine Gumunyu Mangena admitted that Covid-19 presented ‘unprecedented sad times’ that call for champions to end violence against women, girl child, and some men.

‘‘Covid-19 has heightened many gaps within our societies due to limited policy frameworks, access to justice and information,’’ she said.

‘‘There is need to believe in survivors as recipients of violence. We need to make a difference and move forward in ending GBV in our communities,’’ said Mangena.

Young Women Christians Association secretary-general Muchaneta Mukamuri called on interventions that reduce extreme poverty during Covid 19 crisis.

‘‘There is a need to increase interventions that raise the status of women and improve the dependence on men. Young women should be trained to say no and report on any abuse that includes sexual harassment even at learning institutions and places of work,’’ noted Mukamuri.

Gender Commission of Zimbabwe (GCZ) called gender champions to ‘amplify and actively’ work with the women’s movement to drive the campaign against gender-based violence.

In a statement, GCZ said actions against GBV should be mainstreamed in COVID-19 response and recovery activities.

‘‘While we continue fighting the impacts of the Covid 19 pandemic, let us not forget the silent pandemic of violence against women and girls. Government must speed up the enactment of a comprehensive legislative framework to deal with sexual harassment and improve measurement of the different forms of violence experienced by women, including those who are most marginalized communities,’’ said the statement.

A 2019 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) report says, 39.4% of adolescent girls and women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence since age 15 and among females aged 15-49 years, 11.6% had experienced sexual violence in their lives.  For gender champions like Pisayi and others globally the zeal to help victims of GBV in the future remain part of their goals within marginalized communities like Bindura outskirts.