Traditional leaders not doing much to help in the fight against GBV

Women in Gutu have expressed concern over the reluctance by some Traditional leaders in the area to help in the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV). This was revealed during a Heal Zimbabwe GBV training in Gutu on 16 August 2020. A total of 28 women were trained in GBV,Conflict Mapping and Analysis.

The objectives of the training were to conscientize women on constitutionally provided provisions that provide for equal participation between men and women at all tiers, equip women with advocacy skills on lobbying for gender equality at all levels and increase knowledge of women in GBV and possible steps that they can take to minimize GBV in their communities. The training took participants through the process of conflict mapping and conflict mediation. These processes help participants to conduct a thorough analysis of the root causes of a conflict, identify parties to the conflict and identify best placed local level stakeholders who can manage and mediate in the conflict.

Issues that came out during the training include how in most cases most Traditional leaders (mostly Village heads) play down cases of GBV which have been on an increase since the beginning of the COVID 19 lockdown.” One woman once reported a case of spouse abuse to a local Traditional leader but was told that women must be disciplined so that they stay in line. This was even after the woman had exhausted other means such as engaging close relatives so that they could address the problem that she was facing”, said one participant. Another participant also highlighted that even in cases where survivors of GBV make formal reports to the police via the Victim Friendly Unit, the police were reluctant to arrest some perpetrators of GBV. Closely related to this, is the high cost of living that has seen most women not reporting GBV cases to the police due to lack of transport fares to get to the nearest police stations. This has seen some women not reporting cases to the police. Other issues that came out during the training include the high cost of basic commodities such as cooking oil, flour and sugar. Participants note lockdown restrictions dealt a heavy blow to their economic activities.

As a way forward, participants assumed the role of Anti-GBV Ambassadors with the mandate to take a lead in ending violence in different communities and also reach out to survivors of GBV during the lockdown period. The Anti-GBV Ambassadors will also document, monitor, and report cases of GBV to the relevant authorities. Their responsibility will also include compiling monthly reports on the state of human rights in their area and make referrals to institutions such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC). The training by Heal Zimbabwe is one among many initiatives meant to build socially cohesive communities where respect for human rights is prioritized.

Source: Heal Zimbabwe

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