By NQOBANI NDLOVU
A MATABELELAND South civic group has implored government to adopt comprehensive gender-responsive action plans and enact laws to protect women in order to eliminate gender-based violence (GBV) in the province.
The Community Youth Development Trust (CYDT) said a survey it commissioned recently revealed that women in the region were at the recieving end of different forms of violence owing to social inequalities.
CYDT spokesperson Bongiwe Dube said that was partly because Zimbabwe is a patriarchal society with deep-rooted gender norms, stereotypes, inequalities and unequal power dynamics based on gender.
“We have documented evidence of increased rape incidents among young women and girls particularly in Gwanda district. The tragedy is that the majority of these are victims of the people they trust such as relatives. It is so sad that some rape incidents happen in places deemed to be safe such as maternal shelters in local hospitals,” Dube said in a statement.
Unknown criminals broke into Maphisa District Hospital in July and raped two pregnant women.
In June, unknown suspects raided a maternity waiting home at Manama Mission Hospital in Gwanda before kidnapping a pregnant woman and holding her hostage for three hours.
“Therefore, we call upon Parliament, community leadership structures as well as the police to put in place sustainable measures to prevent GBV,” Dube noted.
“Sexual and reproductive health needs, including psychosocial support services and protection from GBV must be prioritised by all government arms, NGOs, CSOs and community structures so as to ensure continuity.”
The findings of a CYDT survey conducted in various districts of Matabeleland South show that GBV has been on the rise since the inception of COVID-19 lockdowns in March 2020. This comes at a time when policymakers have expressed concern over a rise in GBV. There are calls for stiffer sentences against perpetrators as a means to fight the vice.
In March, Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises minister Sithembiso Nyoni told Parliament that government was finalising laws to provide for a mandatory 30-year jail sentence for rape.
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