Stigma risks vulnerable groups into corruption to access SRHR

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ZWACT director Sandra Matendere said stigmatisation and name-calling make vulnerable groups victims of corruption.

BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO THE Zimbabwe Women Against Corruption Trust (ZWACT) says adolescent girls, sex workers as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and intersex (LGBTQI) community risk being targets of corruption as they access sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services.

ZWACT director Sandra Matendere said stigmatisation and name-calling make vulnerable groups victims of corruption.

“Vulnerable groups such as adolescent girls, LGBTQI, and sex workers may become targets of informal payments when seeking sexual and reproductive health care services because of the stigma they encounter from the public,” Matendere said.

“They will end up paying bribes to secretly access services which are normally disbursed for free. Due to their limited power, they won’t seek redress when they encounter this form of corruption.

“In Mutasa, Manicaland province, we spoke to adolescent girls who said their parents don’t accept that they are being involved in sexual activities so they secretly seek these services from healthcare workers where they pay bribes. The reason for not reporting is that they would be protecting themselves from stigma.”

In its April 2021 report, the U4 Resource Centre said corruption was negatively affecting access to SRH in sub-Saharan Africa in several ways.

Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) executive director Tafadzwa Chikumbu said: “I do concur because corruption thrives where there is secrecy and opacity.”

In a 2019 survey conducted by TIZ 58% of the 98 respondents who sought medical services from public hospitals or health centres said they had been asked to pay a bribe to access them. Other people paid a bribe to be served faster.

Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) programmes manager Samuel Matsikure said he never heard of LGBTIQ paying bribes to access services.

“We have not heard such reports from our community. I just checked with all site leads,” said Matsikure.

Trans Research Education Advocacy and Training executive director Sam Ndlovu said: “I am not sure because the constituency I work with is trans and gender diverse, many of whom  cannot afford SRH services and struggle even for daily subsistence.”

“Gender affirming healthcare services are not yet readily available and many of our community members if ever they get services they’re usually at minimal KP (key populations) specific service centres mainly offering HIV-related services.

“Harassment at times occurs from some unprofessional people but other staff members have become better at just treating their patients as patients whoever they are as per their oath.”

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