Tsverukai Murape (not real name), a Checheche villager who has been sharing two rooms with her husband since the beginning of the lockdown claimed she has been assaulted eight times in the presence of their two teenage children.
By Desdemona Munengwa
“Without work, my husband has not been able to fend for us and all he has been doing is to buy those cheap and illicit beers which he says helps him relieve stress and the results have been violence against me and my children,” said Murape.
She has tried to sell second hand clothes at the Growth Point in order to sustain the family but reckons it has not been easy as people do not have money to buy enough items for her to go home with a bottle of cooking oil and mealie -meal to cook for her husband and children.
When she gets home with a few dollars from her daily sale, her husband would sometimes steal from her and when she confronts him, she is assaulted in front of her hungry children.
She has tried reporting her husband to the police but often times, she ends up withdrawing the case due to pressure from her in-laws.
Murape’s story has become common in most societies in Zimbabwe since government imposed the first lockdown in March last year.
With the economy struggling due to the pandemic, women and girls have been the most affected.
According to the Musasa Project, a total of 2 768 cases related to violence against women and girls have been recorded in Bulawayo and other parts of the country from March to June 2020, a rise by 70 percent.
“Statistics indicate that 94% of the cases are women who are being exploited sexually, economically and physically with 90% of the cases being partner violence and physical violence recording 38%,” Musasa Project said.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) cited pre-existing toxic social norms and gender inequalities, economic and social stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with restricted movement and social isolation measures, have led to an exponential increase in Gender Based Violence.
Also Joyce Musandu, an 18-year old girl who stays with her parents and two siblings in a three roomed house in Chipinge said, since the lockdown, her father has been extremely depressed and finding comfort in illicit brew known as musombodiya that he takes almost every day.
Chipinge Rural District Council Ward 6 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 platforms to boost their businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.