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Media, Long Referral Pathways Traumatizing SGBV Survivors

Women and gender activists have blamed society for the trauma faced by Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) survivors after abuse, describing the long and clumsy pathway victims go through for them to report their complaints as traumatizing.

Speaking at a journalists sensitization workshop held in Harare on Wednesday, Musasa Project Legal Legal Officer, Tinashe Chitunhu raised concern on the long and clumsy channel SGBV victims go through for them to report their complaints.

“If a survivor is sexually abused, family chose to discuss the issue within the family first, but the tend to forget what the survivor is going through and the channel is very long and clumsy and  it traumatizes the survivors.

“We have tried to develop a referral pathway that is short enough so that a survivor can get prompt treatment and response first,” she said.

Chitunhu however said that paths can differ depending on the survivor’s case because of the response or assistance they will get and also because of the time sensitiveness of the response.

The workshop was organized by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) and was attended by journalists from the public and private media, representatives from the Gender Commission, UNFP, the police and Shamwari Yemwanasikana among others.

Zimbabwe Gender Commission, Chief Executive Officer, Virginia Muwanigwa urged journalists not to worsen the plight of gender based violence survivors by employing insensitive words.

She accused journalists of shifting the story and setting an agenda which in the end traumatizes the survivors.

The outgoing ZUJ president, Michael Chideme said journalists were not doing justices on reporting SGBV cases.

“We urge journalists to do documentaries in rural areas of GBV specifying on men where do they report to because these case are not being covered well and also the words that journalists are using are more misleading that revealing the case,” he said.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFP) has together with its partners including government developed a One Stop Concept and shelters for the survivors of SGBV.

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