Concern raised over spike in domestic vilonce

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Although GBV remains a serious challenge in the country, it is underfunded and most communities lack access to basic violence response services

WOMEN organisations have expressed concern over the rising cases of domestic violence during the 21-day lockdown announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on March 27, with Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) encouraging government to ensure its response mechanisms protect women and girls.

By Harriet Chikandiwa

Girls and Women Empowerment Network Trust (GWEN) said government should ensure the protection of girls and women’s rights during the national lockdown.

“We are concerned about the gross violation of the social, economic and political rights of women during this lockdown. Since the beginning of the lockdown, most Harare suburbs do not have access to water, women and girls are forced to queue for water at community boreholes, already there has been reports of harassment.”

There have also been long queues at shops with residents trying to access mealie meal, with women empowerment organisations complaining of abuse of women.

GWEN urged the government to heighten awareness on the deadly virus in the farming, mining and rural communities where access to social and traditional media platforms is limited.

Meanwhile, WCoZ has encouraged the government to ensure that all response mechanisms protect women and girls from all forms of discrimination, abuse and exploitation in the face of the global health disaster.

“We urge the government and other private players to come together and move with speed to put in place facilities and machinery critical to responding to this pandemic and providing required social protection mechanism for marginalized communities and women in their diversity.”

“The media should intensify awareness campaigns by making use of the print and electronic media to disseminate information in all the 16 languages stipulated in the constitution,” WCoZ said in a statement.

“Government should ensure that marginalised groups such as rural communities, persons with disabilities have access to proper information on COVID-9 with regards to prevention and management of the virus. Therefore, sensitisation in rural and informal settings remains critical.”

WCoZ added: “We urge communities to ensure regular practice of public health measures to reduce and delay community transmission of the virus, which measures include, hand hygiene, environmental cleaning and ventilation.”

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