Saturday, November 26, 2011

Let Us Shun Gender Based Violence

Let’s shun gender based violence

Friday, 25 November 2011 00:00

Roselyne Sachiti Deputy Features Editor
Zimbabwe Herald

Today marks the beginning of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence.

Zimbabwe joins the world in observing these critical days set aside to denounce all forms of violence, especially against women and children.

Domestic violence remains a global problem and Zimbabwe has not been spared. The theme this year is "From peace in the home to peace in our nation, let's challenge all forms of gender-based violence."

Commemorations will be held in Bulawayo today and will coincide with the launch of the Four Ps campaign spearheaded by the Ministry of Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development.

The four Ps are prevention, protection, partnerships and programming. Many people have been experiencing various forms of domestic violence with issues swept under the carpet because of societal values and beliefs that oppress women and children.

In many instances, women have suffered at the hands of their abusive husbands, economically, physically and emotionally.

Some men have also endured physical, emotional and verbal abuse and as a result of set societal standards, they rarely report to police as those who take that step are usually mocked and labelled weaklings.

But what is this animal called domestic violence?

Scholars from different fields broadly define domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, and intimate partner violence (IPV), as a pattern of abusive behaviours by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, or cohabitation.

Domestic violence, has many forms, including physical aggression (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation.

Consumption of potent spirits like Zed, Kenge and Tambirano and mental illness present additional challenges in eliminating domestic violence.

The high unemployment rate has led to economic and social issues.

Inadequate training and manpower of both police, social workers, magistrates and the unavailability of adequate stationary, has been a plug in the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act.

Other major causes of domestic violence include infidelity by partners and or engaging in extra marital affairs.

Poverty - in this case the failure by breadwinners to sustain their families has also resulted in domestic violence. Undue interference by in-laws or other family members, drug or alcohol abuse have also caused domestic violence.

Technology has contributed in fuelling domestic violence through cellphones and e-mails. The failure by some spouses to contribute in the running of the family have also resulted in domestic violence cases.

Nagging people who want to compare themselves with their neighbours' lifestyles also end up trapped in domestic violence.

Economic dependency on men, shortages of both human and material resources are some of the many challenges they meet. The lack of counselling skills by most of police personnel, staff turnover, lack of ideal office accommodation, payment of medical bills by victims and the withdrawal of cases is another challenge faced in the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act.

Economic dependency on men results in withdrawals of charges especially in cases where the accused is the breadwinner. The list is endless.

Zimbabwe has done a lot in terms of awareness, perception, definition and documentation of domestic violence and yet thousands of women and men continue to protect their abusive partners citing customary considerations.

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