Thursday, November 28, 2013

Zimbabwe Government to Build Shelters for Victims of Gender Violence

Govt moots shelter homes for gender based violence victims

November 28, 2013
Ruth Butaumocho Gender Editor

The Government will soon build shelter homes for victims of sexual and gender based violence to cater for the increasing number of victims who are mainly women and children, a Cabinet Minister has said. Speaking at the sidelines of a workshop on rape and sexual violence for female parliamentarians recently, the Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Oppah Muchinguri said provision of shelter homes was a long standing programme that was being hampered by lack of funds.

“It has also been Government’s wish to build shelter homes for the up-keep of sexual and gender based violence victims, so that we can lessen the burden on civil society.

“However, we have not been able to achieve the goal because the money was not enough to cut across all our needs.

“Early next year we are going to ensure that my ministry will seriously look into the issue so that we can assist in the provision of the homes. We should not leave the mandate to civil society, but we also have got a responsibility to assist and ease the burden,” she said.

A shelter house is temporary accommodation that is provided by organisations like the Msasa Project to house victims of sexual and gender based violence while they are waiting for their cases to be dealt with either with the police or other institutions.

Minister Muchinguri added that the need to set up more shelter homes had been further exacerbated by the increasing cases of gender based violence that were being reported across Zimbabwe.

“It is saddening that despite existing interventions the levels of violence against women and girls has reached astronomical levels – levels that call for action can no longer be ignored,” she said.

The safe house concept is based on the premise that effective work against sexual and gender-based violence cannot be achieved without providing support and protection for survivors or victims of violence, who may experience all forms of abuse from their perpetrators before they have had time to heal.

Shelter homes that are spouted in non descript but different neighbourhoods across Zimbabwe have proved to be welcoming places for women and their children, who often arrive battered and with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

While the services offered at each shelter home may vary depending on the available resources, several of them offer a holistic approach that includes shelter, health care, food, group counselling, clothes for survivors of violence and their children.

They also offer self-defence and life skills and sometimes professional training in different fields.

However, save for a few supporting homes that are linked to government hospitals, Government does not have shelter homes of its own.

Most shelter homes that are in Zimbabwe are run by non-governmental organisations involved in curbing sexual and gender-based violence among women and children.

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