GOVERNMENT is stepping up efforts in fighting gender-based violence (GBV) and child marriage at a time COVID-19 has disrupted provision of services to victims.
BY VANESSA GONYE
Speaking at a high-level dialogue with faith-based institutions, Women Affairs secretary Melusi Matshiya said the pandemic had worsened the situation for GBV victims by interrupting services at a critical time.
Matshiya was speaking on behalf of Women Affairs minister, Sithembiso Nyoni.
He said GBV affected everyone and as such, a solution needed to be worked out.
“We are commemorating this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence at the backdrop of a very serious pandemic, the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of the pandemic has seen increased incidence of Gender-Based Violence.”
“Further, victims of GBV have had difficulty in accessing GBV services due to restricted movement during part of the first phase of the COVID-19 lockdown. The restrictions also affected religious gatherings which often serve as a place of comfort for survivors of gender-based violence,” he said.
Matshiya said his ministry had made efforts to engage religious leaders as they were a strategic and influential group which would promote continuity and sustainability of the programme.
He said the church was a key community gatekeeper which was proactively taking the lead in educating members and followers on the dangers of child marriages and GBV.
Many civic organisations have been advocating for repealing of laws that prevent young people from accessing contraceptives; a viewpoint that has been met with criticism.
“This form of child abuse can have serious short- and long- term physical, psychological and social consequences not only for girls but also for their families and communities,” he said.
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