The Rarely Spoken Story of Gender Based Violence Among Female Tertiary Students

On Tuesday the 2nd of April 2019 ICODZIM, held focus group discussion with female tertiary students from Masvingo teachers, Great Zimbabwe University and Masvingo Polytechnic. It emerged during the meeting that some female students were victims of gender based violence and it was going unreported.

Absence of tertiary grants, which would have covered transport, accommodation, food and tuition, has exacerbated the risk of gender based violence. It emerged that at Great Zimbabwe for example the university announced using the university student portal days after the semester had opened, that it could no longer afford offering university bus service due to fuel scarcity .As such students are now forced to walk long distance lectures 5 to 6 km, e.g students residing in Rujeko B to the faculty of social sciences in the industrial area and same distance back.

As a result female students are now forced to have inter generational relationship with taxi (fun cargo) drivers for free ‘rides’. Some female students especially part ones are now moving in with their boyfriend (senior students) to cut on cost. Melissa Moyo (not her real name) said “I can’t afford the expenses landlords close to tertiary facilities are demanding rentals in foreign currency the general cost of living has increased, my parents are not employed. Moving in with boyfriends has been the logical survival strategy.The problem however is that you are expected to cook do laundry all ‘wifely’ duties and the boyfriend has now started imposing curfew.”

When asked if female students were being physically beaten by their partners there was a moment of silence, followed by glances, to each other and then whispering and murmuring among themselves. Eventually one of the student raised her voice said, “yes but we are trying to hide it well because it’s embarrassing if people find out, if you report there is risk of him being suspended which can worsen the abuse and if reported how do we explain to our parents?”

Some of the concerns raised during the meeting included the fact that there wasn’t enough information on reproductive health which is only shared during orientation in first year semester one. Yet SRH service and products continue to improve. Single girls were completely denied access contraceptive on the basis of being single. Married students said most of the time they were not given contraceptives being asked why they didn’t bring enough to last the entire semester.

Source: Institute for Community Development in Zimbabwe Trust (ICODZIM)