First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa unveils a plaque during the official launch of the Bindura One-stop Centre to assist gender-based violence (GBV) victims at Bindura Hospital yesterday. — Pictures: John Manzongo
THE negative impact of gender-based violence (GBV) continues to overshadow efforts made in promoting gender equality and the country’s economic development, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa said yesterday in Bindura when commissioning the Bindura One-stop Centre for survivors of gender-based violence at Bindura Provincial Hospital.
The First Lady is the country’s health ambassador and has visited many parts of the country speaking against GBV which worsened during the national lockdown put it place to combat Covid-19.
Yesterday, the First Lady unveiled a plaque to commission the centre and during a tour was shown the processes survivors are taken through.
The 16 days, the First Lady said, presented an opportunity for stakeholders to intensify efforts against the scourge.
She expressed concern over rising cases of gender-based violence cases which she described as dreadful and gruesome.
The multiple cluster indicator survey of 2019, she said, reported that 49 percent of women and girls aged between 15 and 49 years have experienced either physical, sexual or emotional violence at some point.
“Furthermore, each and everyday we continue to read of dreadful incidences of gender-based violence with a spike in gruesome cases. We wonder what will become of us.
“The prevailing Covid-19 pandemic has had serious consequences as we have witnessed increasing incidents of gender-based violence. The negative impact of gender-based violence continues to down play efforts made in promoting gender equality and the development of our country.”
Amai Mnangagwa said the prevention of gender-based violence was the critical element for effectively addressing the challenge.
“Prevention is better than responding and over the years this has proved to be very economic as compared to managing GBV once it has already occurred. Initiatives on prevention should be given high priority if we are to win this battle.”
Programmes around male involvement, the First Lady said, should be amplified to promote positive masculinities by also engaging men as partners in ending violence against women and girls.
“The collection, analysis and dissemination of timely data on GBV can never be under-estimated. For us to adequately respond we need to know the magnitude of the problem,” she said.
Government remained committed to addressing all forms of GBV as evidenced by the Constitution which provides for protection and freedom from all forms of violence from public and private sources.
She urged all Zimbabweans to join the campaign to create zero tolerance to all forms of GBV before making a passionate plea to men to end violence against their spouses.
“SaAmai ndirikuti kunemi vana baba mudzimai wamugere naye kumba ndimi makamuti ndinokuda, paazouya kumba kwenyu makumurova zuva nezuva, zvadiiko nhasi ko rudo rwaive pakutanga rwakayendepi? Ndapota vana baba regai kutirova kuitira kuti remangwana redu nerevana vedu rive rakajeka,” she said.
The First Lady, as the Angel of Hope Foundation’s Patron, donated a tonne of maize-meal and other foodstuffs to the hospital for the benefit of all patients. The elderly and people with disabilities were also given an assortment of groceries by the First Lady.
Provincial medical director Dr Clemence Tshuma thanked the First Lady for the food which he said would go a long way in providing for patients, among them pregnant women.
On GBV, Dr Tshuma said Survivor Friendly units had been set up at all 12 hospitals in the province.
“All the 140 RHCs have been trained to give the minimum package before survivors are referred to the next level. The minimum package includes testing for HIV, STI, Hepatitis B and pregnancy. After the test survivors are put on post exposure prophylaxis for HIV, STI, Hepatitis B and pregnancy for those who are negative. For those who are positive, they are referred to the appropriate department for continuation of care,” he said.
He said before the arrangement, health staff used to refer survivors all over town to different stakeholders and some of them got lost along the way.
Zimbabwe Gender Commission chairperson Mrs Margaret Mukahanana Sangarwe acknowledged the “tremendous work being done by our First Lady in uniting communities and amplifying the voices of marginalised women”.
The One-Stop-Centre was in line with this year’s theme as it showed that the Government was responding to GBV through funding of such centres to protect victims.
“We all agree that Gender-based Violence and spousal gender-based violence are the most pervasive forms of violence and human rights breaches in our communities. They permeate the socio-cultural, political and economic sphere of our lives and manifest in so many forms which include rape, forced marriages including the so-called child marriages, sexual harassment, name calling, body shaming and virginity testing and HIV myths, among others.”
Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni said GBV constituted a gross violation of human rights and had largely been used as a weapon against women’s emancipation, women’s empowerment and women’s participation in all sectors.
“This year’s national commemorations will also see the official commissioning of the Bindura One-stop centre for GBV survivors. The Bindura One Stop Centre brings to five the number of one-stop centres that are run by the Government.
“A number of GBV stakeholders are also doing a lot in complementing Government in the establishment of one-stop centre for survivors of Gender-based Violence in Zimbabwe,” she said.
In a speech read on his behalf by Deputy Chief Magistrate Mrs Bianca Makwande, Chief Magistrate Mr Munamato Mutevedzi said he was happy to lead the coordination and management of that initiative.
Mr Mutevedzi chairs the national victim friendly system.
“Allow me to state from the onset that my responsibilities of the office of the chief magistrate make that office suitably placed to lead the national victim friendly system in the country. As a result, the office celebrated when the Government of Zimbabwe bestowed the honour on the office of the chief magistrate to lead the coordination and management of that initiative. The committee is made up of stakeholders from across all critical sectors of the economy.
“Since its formation in 1997 the national victim friendly committee has never looked back.
“It has consistently collaborated with all other stakeholders in ensuring the provision of quality services to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence across the country,” he said.
Mashonaland Central Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Monica Mavhunga said she wished there could be 365 days of activism against gender-based violence to ensure the safety of women and girls.
“Sadly this year’s commemorations come at the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic which has disrupted usual activities.”
Senate President, Mabel Chinomona and Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Deputy Minister Jennifer Mhlanga were among the dignitaries that attended the event.