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Govt urged to monitor online GBV

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BY LORRAINE MUROMO/PATRICIA SIBANDA
GOVERNMENT has been urged to expedite the implementation of policies and legal frameworks that provide remedy for online gender-based (OGBV) violence victims, a Southern African civic group championing equality and justice said.

Gender Links expressed concern over the prevalence of online GBV, also targeting female politicians despite the passing of the Cyber Security Bill which sought to regulate the use of the internet and social media to curb cyber-crimes.

“…the legislative framework on gender-based violence in Zimbabwe does not specifically provide for online gender-based violence,” Gender Links said in its report.

“In the absence of express legislative provisions covering OGBV there are no adequate protections. While there is no express reference to online violence in the Domestic Violence Act (DVA), protection for OGBV must be specifically provided and not left to interpretation.”

Gender Links said a survey showed that OGBV was disproportionately affecting women, in particular female politicians.

Yesterday, Women Affairs, Small to Medium Enterprises minister Sithembiso Nyoni also said GBV was an unacceptable pandemic during the first rollout of the high-level political compact (HLPC) policy dialogue held in Bulawayo.

“GBV is unacceptable and if you notice that to date in about three and a half years from 2019 to 2021 over 15 000 of women and girls have been subjected to GBV and that is through only one organisation. What of those that did not go anywhere to seek help,” Nyoni said.

“This is a pandemic. It is a serious thing that the President launched that needs to be taken seriously.”

Statistics also indicate that about 42,5% of women have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 15.

Zimbabwe last year made history by becoming one of the few countries under the Global Spotlight Initiative Programme to develop a multi-sectoral approach towards addressing GBV and harmful practices.

“This will stand out as a model and a good practice that other countries will seek to learn from and replicate within their jurisdictions and it is a clear testimony of the government’s commitment to ending GBV and harmful practices,” Nyoni said, adding that her ministry was seized with ensuring that GBV survivors receive all forms of assistance including legal representation.

In December, the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services said the number of inmates caged for GBV countrywide in 2021 stood at 1 883, a drop from 2 106 in 2020.

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