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Parliamentarians urged to push govt to invest in curbing gender based violence


Harare (New Ziana)-Members of Parliament were on Friday urged to lobby the government to invest adequately towards reducing the levels of gender-based violence in Zimbabwe, which remain worryingly high.

Officially opening a sensitisation workshop on the upcoming 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Women Parliamentary Caucus, Maybe Mbowa said a bigger budget is necessary to fight the growing challenge of violence against women and girls.

The 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) run from November 25 to December 10 every year.

Mbowa’s plea resonates with this year’s theme for 16 days of activism against gender-based violence: “Unite! Invest to prevent violence against women and girls.”

“The theme is even more relevant to us Parliamentarians as we are mandated to make laws for the good governance of the country. As you are all aware, we are currently in the budget formulation season and the 2024 Budget will soon be tabled before us on the 30th of November. In light of that, l would like to take this opportunity to implore us all to follow proceedings so that we all participate effectively and call on the government to invest adequately to curb gender-based violence in Zimbabwe. Huge financial resources are required to strengthen institutions that are mandated to fight this scourge,” she said.

Mbowa said it was heartbreaking to note that despite all the government and partners’ efforts to eradicate gender-based violence, it remains on an upward trend.

“Despite these progressive constitutional provisions and laws such as Domestic Violence Act, Sexual Offences Act, and Trafficking in Persons Act, the rate of GBV is still concerning. According to the 2019 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey Report, 39.4 percent of adolescent girls and women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence since age 15. This rate spiked by over 60 percent during the COVID 19 lockdown period according to data presented by Musasa Project. It is needless to stress that this situation is untenable. Even more worrying is the fact that the majority of the victims are women and girls,” she said.

Addressing the legislators, Zimbabwe Republic Police Victim Friendly Unit national coordinator Assistant Commissioner Elizabeth Phiri said aggravated indecent assault tops the list of crimes being committed against women and girls at 22 percent, followed by domestic violence and rape.’

She said another emerging violence against women is that of online sexual violence where most of the victims end up blackmailed by their violators.

“Some of the challenges we face include failure by victims and witnesses to testify in court due to customary norms and beliefs and withdrawal of gender-based violence cases from courts by victims,” she said.

Elizabeth Satumba, the acting director for Gender, in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small & Medium Enterprise Development reiterated the government’s commitment in ending gender-based violence.

“Addressing GBV remains a national priority for the Government of Zimbabwe. A number of laws, policies and guidelines have been put in place to prevent and protect survivors of gender-based violence,” she said.

According to the 2019 multiple indicator survey, about 1 in 2 women aged 15 to 49 years had experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse committed by the current or last husband or/partner in their lifetime and the most prevalent form of abuse was emotional.

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