MANICALAND’s one-stop centres have recorded 597 sexual violence cases since January, thereby prompting authorities to take urgent measures to address the alarming situation, The Manica Post has learnt.
However, the cases reported at the one-stop centres in Buhera, Chipinge, Chimanimani, Makoni and Mutare are only a fraction of the actual numbers as statistics from the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development show that two women are sexually abused in Manicaland every day.
Many GBV victims do not seek help or report their cases.
The one-stop centres also assisted 294 physical violence survivors, while a total of 289 survivors of economic abuse also received support.
The centres also recorded 703 cases of emotional abuse.
Responding to the statistics during the national launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence in Honde Valley on Sunday, Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said Government is raising awareness on prevention of sexual violence.
She said Government is also strengthening the capacity of one-stop centres so that they can respond effectively to the needs of the survivors.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the ongoing campaign seeks to encourage more survivors to report their cases and seek help from the one-stop centres which offer free and confidential services.
She said there is need to establish more centres across Manicaland’s districts to allow GBV survivors to receive the necessary assistance.
Minister Mutsvangwa urged the private sector and developmental partners to partner Government in establishing such centres.
“Private stakeholders should be applauded for complementing Government’s efforts in establishing the one-stop centres and safe shelters in the province. These have gone a long way in ensuring that GBV survivors get services.
“They also provide protection services to those at risk of further violence from their partners. We implore on our partners to keep supporting us as we establish more centres and sustain those we already have,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said in most cases of child marriages, parents and close relatives are the facilitators of the abuse.
“Child marriage is on the increase, with some cases resulting in the deaths of young girls while giving birth, which is unacceptable. What is more disheartening is that in most of these cases, parents or close relatives are found at the forefront.
“It is very worrying that the parents who are expected to protect their children are the perpetrators of violence, thus presenting a very complex situation on the abuse of minors.
“I call upon everyone to be a responsible citizen We should shun such practices and ensure that children are protected from all forms of abuse,” she said.
Speaking during the same event, the Women Affairs Ministry’s Manicaland Provincial Development Officer, Mr Gabriel Jaji said sexual violence is a form of GBV.
“It is sad to note that the 597 cases reported in Manicaland are only a fraction of the abuses that are going on in the province.
“It is important to note that more survivors were not captured as they received support from various health institutions and others ended up not seeking services at the centres,” said Mr Jaji.
He urged stakeholders to work together to end GBV.
Mr Jaji said the key drivers of GBV in Manicaland are religious and cultural beliefs, poverty and peer pressure, as well as the existence of child-headed families.
“Some child-headed families are those whose parents would have travelled either to Harare or Mutare to sell their produce, leaving behind their children to take care of themselves.
“We also have issues with the social clock whereby the patriarchal system sees society pushing people to get married. All these drivers are perpetuating GBV,” he said.