Gender-based violence up

HARARE - GENDER-BASED violence in Zimbabwe is on the increase with a stunning more than 2 300 cases reported so far, Barbara Ngwenya, Chief Inspector in the ZRP for Harare Province, has revealed.

Addressing more than 100 women attending a Gender Based Violence (GBV) discussion in Harare, Ngwenya said there were 2 379 cases of GBV reported so far, up from 1 053 in 2010. "I can confirm this figure and it is going up," she said. "In February alone there were 285 cases reported, up from 266 in January. In total 2 379 cases have been reported so far and 1 053 reported last year."

She said there were five murder cases reported in Harare so far with the latest coming on Saturday. The discussion was organised by the Musasa Project begun by the late Elizabeth Chanakira. The Musasa Project protects women who have been abused by their husbands and who do not have any accommodation. It provides them with temporary shelter until they can get back into mainstream society.

Ngwenya said the ZRP was facing numerous challenges, the main one being lack of funding to deal with GBV cases quickly.

She said while the Domestic Violence Act was "good for women" it "is very difficult to apply it because most women do not know their rights". She said other problems faced was that there are no safe houses to keep abused women who sometimes went back to their husbands that had abused them.

Ngwenya said the US$5 fee charged for a Protection Order Application form was "way too high and most poor women cannot afford it". "It is very easy to spend US$5, but it is also very hard to find it in Zimbabwe," Ngwenya said. She said there was a high staff turnover at the ZRP because of paltry salaries, as well as prison sentences being too lenient on GBV perpetrators in Zimbabwe.

"We do not get any funding and we desperately need it," she told the women. "The Domesticv Violence Act is good but it is difficult to implement since most victims do not understand it." The Domestic Violence Act was passed in Parliament in 2007.

"We, as women, are very proud of it," said an official from The Musasa Project. "But is it working in our favour. Sorry ladies, but I do not think it is. It is definitely not working for us, women."

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