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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Manica Youth Assembly Goes Rural for Women and Girls in Zimbabwe

Manica Youth Assembly (MAYA) hosted a community dialogue on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in partnership with Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA), Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO), and the Ministry of Women Affairs in Ward 14, Mutasa Central. The community dialogue was mainly anchored on raising awareness of sexual gender-based violence amongst the youth in Mutasa constituency. This initiative came as a mechanism to reduce inequalities caused by the Covid-19 induced locked down due to the fact that women and girls can no longer access institutions that provides counselling and help. Women are mainly under attack in their homes and society in general. They face sexual violence, physical violence, emotional and psychological violence and also socio-economic violence. Cultural and traditional practices have perpetuated the subservient position of women, which makes them more vulnerable. Patriarchal socialization portrays women as perpetual minors who can be punished by their fathers, brothers and husbands.

Gender-based violence arises from social, cultural and religious practices that subordinate women. It thrives in communities where Gender based violence is acceptable as a form of conflict resolution. It is facilitated by patriarchal (male controlled) social hierarchies, acceptance of violence as a mode of social interaction and political interface; by socioeconomic inequality and a breakdown in norms and social structures. Gender based violence reflects and re-enforces differences between men and women and compromises the health, dignity, security and autonomy of victims. It serves to perpetuate male power and control and is sustained by a culture of silence and denial of the serious of health and social consequences of abuse. In Zimbabwe gender-based violence is seen particularly in acts of domestic violence where rights are violated because of physiological make-up and gender roles performed. Spousal abuse is the most common form of gender-based violence. As a result of the patriarchal nature of Zimbabwean society, women are affected more by gender-based violence than men.  Women are mainly under attack in their homes and society in general. They face sexual violence, physical violence, emotional and psychological violence and also socio-economic violence. Cultural and traditional practices have perpetuated the subservient position of women, which makes them more vulnerable. Patriarchal socialization portrays women as perpetual minors who can be punished by their fathers, brothers and husbands.

Traditional practices which violate women include:

  • Forced virginity testing
  • Pledging of women or girls for the purposes of appeasing spirits
  • Child marriages.

Youth group organizes event with other organizations to discuss gender-based violence of women and girls, requesting that young men help.

The plenary comprised of health workers, gate keepers, young people, and the Headman Mr Chikumbu is in charge of a certain village area. Young people must be the driving force in environmental and climate justice issues and at the same time must not be the driving force for propelling gender-based violence in the communities.

Causes of gender-based violence also include:

  • Economic dependency of women on men
  • A weak and unproductive policy framework
  • Cultural, religious or ideological permissiveness
  • Bias that condones gender-based violence
  • Poor reporting and redress mechanisms for victims
  • Social degeneration associated with the breakdown in social values
  • Rape of virgins by HIV positive men in the belief that they can be cured of the diseases
  • Subjugation of women.

PIC: Tendai Nyamadzi Programmes Officer MAYA shading more light on the ways to reduce gender based violence in communities.

MAYA’s Gender, Research, and Development Officer, Rutendo Nyanhanda, stated that, “During this period of Covid19 pandemic and indefinite lockdown, violence towards girls and young women is accepted as a social norm. This must be challenged as a matter of urgency and the blame, shame, and stigma faced by victims must be eliminated.”

Moreover, there is need to embrace SDG5 (Sustainable Development Goal 5 is Empower Women and Girls and Ensure Their Equal Rights) so that every young man plays a pivotal role in climate action and makes more noise on the Environment.

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