Bindura, (New Ziana) – A rise in gender based violence (GBV) cases is costly to the economy as it reduces productivity, First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa, has said, rallying the nation to adopt zero tolerance towards the vice.
The First Lady, who was speaking on Thursday at the launch of a one stop centre for GBV survivors, lauded the multi-stakeholder approach between government and development partners, being taken to assist victims of GBV.
“The socio-economic impacts of gender based violence have for a long time been ignored despite its huge cost on the social well-being of the citizenry,” she said, at the event used to mark the national commemorations of the 16 days of activism against GBV.
“It is estimated that gender based violence results in between one to two percent cost to the Gross Domestic Product and these relate to both direct and indirect costs.”
The One Stop Centre, located at Bindura General Hospital, was established in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), with financial assistance from the European Union.
The First Lady said GBV, which had seen cases rise following outbreak of the coronavirus, was “a very traumatic experience which requires specialized services like health services, legal services, police services and psycho-social support including counseling” which would be provided at the centre.
The one stop centre concept was adopted from South Africa and Ghana, said Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Sithembiso Nyoni.
“The beauty of the One Stop Centre model is that it facilitates the provision of all these specialized services under one roof thereby affording the victim privacy as well as limiting their exposure to further victimization,” she said.
“Throughout the provision of these services, a survivor-centred approach remains paramount.”
European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Timo Olkkonen, urged government to set aside more funds towards tackling GBV.
“I am proud to say that we are playing our part in this fight, through our support to the Spotlight Initiative, and in line with this year’s 16 days campaign theme, ‘Orange the world: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect,” he said.
UNFPA Zimbabwe Country Representative, Dr. Esther Muia said the rise in violence against women and girls had since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic created a “shadow pandemic.
“As we are officially opening this One Stop Centre, we are grateful to the European Union Spotlight Initiative for allowing us to expand access to services for survivors, at our time of greatest need as a country,” she said.
To date the UNFPA has facilitated the opening up of five One Stop Centres across the country, in Harare, Gweru, Gwanda, Rusape and Chinhoyi, with plans to expand to other areas.
“We are very pleased with the partnership that has allowed us to fight this shadow pandemic for the protection of women and girls.”
A survey done in 2019 in the country had shown that 49.4 percent of girls and women aged between 15 and 49 had experienced emotional, physical and or sexual violence at some point in their life.