The COVID-19 pandemic and steps taken by government to slow the spread of the virus, including lockdowns have resulted increased reports of domestic violence, child marriage, online abuse and other forms of gender based violence in Chipinge.
By Desdemona Munengwa
The government measures especially national lockdowns disrupted education, livelihoods, food security and access to services including Gender Based Violence support and sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH).
A Checheche resident only identified as Murape who has been sharing her two rooms with her husband confirmed to being assaulted eight times in the presence of her teenage children.
“I have been assaulted several times, screamed at and had furniture thrown all over the house by my husband over petty issues,” said Murape.
While for some, the prolonged lockdown is an opportunity to catch up on lost family time, for women like Murape and many others in abusive relationships, it is a time for despair.
Chipinge rural district council ward councilor Mr Mukwapati encouraged women to engage in small businesses or projects to widen their sources of income to curb poverty and gender-based violence.
Mukwapati also urged women to take advantage of online marketing that many are using during the Covid-19 pandemic to boost their businesses.
Emerging evidence in Zimbabwe, or regionally indicates that poor women, women in rural areas, women and girls with disabilities, adolescent girls, older women, women and girls with HIV, migrant women and women in quarantine facilities and refugee women are at heightened risk of violence.
A research conducted by five NGOs working with survivors of gender-based violence, including the Musasa Project, the Adult Rape Clinic and the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association has revealed a sharp increase in domestic violence during the Covid-19 lockdown.
According to the research, reports of emotional violence over the same period were up by 80 percent representing the sharpest rise during lockdown, “possibly due to heightened household tensions resulting from confined living conditions and increased financial stress.”