BLOODIED pictures of Catherine Pamuchigere that went viral on social media last Wednesday have outraged many citizens who have called for sterner measures against perpetrators of gender-based violence (GBV).
BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
Catherine was reportedly bashed by her former husband, Livieson.
“This is the man who has been abusing me for 16 years. His name is Livieson Pamuchigere. I have a protection order against him. He beat me on Sunday and I reported the case to police, but he claims the law (enforcement agents) in Norton are in his hands. Help me bring this man to book please, my life is in danger!” she pleaded.
Her case represents many others whose abuses have sadly gone unreported out of fear and/or ignorance.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), despite women playing a critical role in sustainable development, GBV is undermining their opportunities and is denying them the ability to fully realise their basic human rights.
In an effort to reduce GBV, UNFPA is working with the Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development ministry, sister UN agencies and civic society towards increasing availability and utilisation of GBV services by survivors as well as reducing GBV in communities.
Women like Pamuchigere have suffered long periods of abuse, but kept this under wraps as is the norm in this country.
But the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations has taken the lead by calling on all faith communities to break the silence that surrounds the epidemic of violence against women and girls under the theme Speak Out!
The campaign, which brought together hundreds of congregants and development partners, was launched at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Harare on Thursday last week as a precursor to the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence commemorated between November 25 and December 10 each year.
According to the latest Zimbabwe health demographic survey, more than 1 in 3 (35%) of married women aged 15-49 experience spousal violence committed by their husband or partner.
One in three girls is married off before she turns 18, often to older men. The underlying causes are many, ranging from poverty to patriarchy.
Many women and girls live in fear of violence or are experiencing violence and often remain silent, citing religious reasons as the major deterrents from reporting abuse to the
The Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations also encourages women and girls as well as other members of faith communities who suffer from or witness violence to speak out.
The campaign will also roll out round table discussions, dialogues and through churches measures that safeguard the dignity of women and girls.