What causes gender violence?

Communication breakdown and failure to resolve differences amicably were cited as the major reasons for spousal violence by several couples who spoke to The Zimbabwean in Chitungwiza and Harare.

Dorcas Gwande, aged 27, and her husband, 34-year-old Tinashe from Highfield in Harare, said hardly a month passed without the couple engaging in some form of physical violence.

Said Tinashe: “I beat her up for her foul mouth. She does not respect me and I end up stamping my authority using my fists.”

Dorcas replied: “He enjoys seeing me begging him to stop the beatings. He told me one day that such moments make him feel in control. Every time he beats me up, he locks the door so that no-one comes to my rescue. I am scared of him,” she added.

Another couple from Zengeza 4 in Chitungwiza said they fight because of infidelity issues.

Said Marvelous Nyirenda: “He beats me up every time he has a new girlfriend as a way of silencing me and covering up for his shenanigans. He tells me that he is like a bull – exhibiting masculinity and at the same time protecting his territory – me.”

Nyirenda’s husband Mike disagreed: “She does not trust me and she is always accusing me of infidelity and we end up fighting over this issue.”

A dealer in laptops and mobile phones, Mike said he hated that his wife went through his mobile calls and they had fought several times because of this.

“That is invasion of privacy. Her problem is that she ends up calling every number in my phone that she suspects belonged to females. It is so embarrassing,” he said, adding that he had lost a number of clients after such incidents.

Another couple from Sunningdale 2 in Harare said they rarely fought save for the one time when the wife had deliberately defied her husband’s directive to wean their child.

Said Fanuel Chikonya: “A woman should respect the husband if she is to command the husband to respect her. If she defies me then I have no option but to exercise my masculinity on her.”

Chikonya said that it was the wife that started the violence.

“She started assaulting me using kitchen utensils after we had exchanged words and I had no choice but to show her who was stronger,” he said.

Chikonya’s wife Melody said after receiving a couple of strong blows, she realised that she was no match for her husband physically.

“He beat the daylights out of me and, since that day, I will never try to be physical with him because I know that he is stronger,” she added.

Gender violence constitutes a breach of the fundamental rights to life, liberty, security, dignity, equality between women and men, non-discrimination and physical and mental integrity. Zimbabwe, on November 25, joined the rest of the world in commemorating 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

Every year, the United Nations declares the period from November 25 (International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women) to December 10 (International Human Rights Day), as the 16 days of no violence against women across the globe.

According to a recent study by Musasa project, Gender Links and the women’s affairs ministry to measure violence against women in zimbabwe, 26 per cent of women interviewed experienced some form of psychological, emotional, economic, physical or sexual violence perpetrated by an intimate partner in the period 2011 to 2012.

Carried out in the country’s ten provinces, using a sample of 6,600 respondents (3,326 , women and 3,274 men), a greater proportion of women reportedly experienced intimate partner violence compared to the proportion of men that reported perpetrating such violence against their female partners.

Read the report: “Thirteen per cent of men in the country admitted perpetrating some form of violence against their intimate partners during a similar period.”

Findings from the survey revealed that 69 per cent of women experienced intimate partner violence, while 41 per cent of men admitted to perpetrating violence against their partner in their lifetime.

The Southern African Development Community Protocol on Gender and Development aims to halve gender violence by 2015.

Varume Svinurai/ Vhukani Madoda Men’s Forum organising secretary Themba Nzounhenda said organisations advocating for zero GBV by 2015 needed an all-inclusive approach towards fighting the scourge.

“GBV interventions and programming that does not include men will not make a lot of impact,” he said. “Research should be inclusive of what men are also going through and establish some of the reasons why men are behaving in the way they are.”

Nzounhenda said male engagement was important to curb GBV.

A marriage counselor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, attributed increased cases of GBV to failure by couples to adhere to the social and cultural expectations of marriage.

“Previously, infidelity was the realm of men, but women are also cheating and men cannot stomach that. Failure to adapt to new social and cultural expectations is a potential recipe for disaster within marriages and couples end up getting physical to force their partners to adapt,” he said.

He added that because people are different and are entitled to their opinion, “no one should take advantage of their partner based on their gender”.

Musasa project director Netty Musanhu said her organisation worked with men through community dialogue and provided counseling to couples as an intervention to ensure male involvement in reducing GBV.

Said Musanhu: “We get referrals from the courts and we work with men as partners in the fight against GBV. Our organisation provides counseling services to couples. Men are actively involved in community dialogues and we partner organisations working with men such as Padare/Enkhundleni/Men’s Forum.”

She said because GBV affects families, communities and the country’s development, it was important that society works together for the eradication of all forms of violence.

Musanhu said there was need for a multi-sectoral approach in the fight against GBV, if Zimbabwe was to achieve total eradication of GBV by 2015.

Post published in: News
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