Zimbabwe’s Women Face GBV Crisis: Urgent Action Needed Now

World Bank Highlights Alarming Violence Rates, Calls for Immediate Measures

by Adenike Adeodun

In Zimbabwe, a country marked by its rich history and complex socio-economic tapestry, an alarming issue shadows the lives of many women: gender-based violence (GBV). A recent assessment by the World Bank reveals a troubling reality – nearly two out of every five Zimbabwean women are victims of physical violence, and over one in ten have experienced sexual violence. This data underlines a pervasive problem within the nation, where GBV remains a significant concern, deeply rooted in societal norms and often perpetuated within the supposed safety of homes.

The statistics are stark and speak volumes about the crisis at hand. Since the beginning of the year, Zimbabwe has reported a staggering 16,444 cases of GBV, leading to 31 tragic deaths. These figures, with men identified as the primary perpetrators, only scratch the surface of a much deeper issue, as many instances go unreported due to fear of retaliation and financial dependence on abusive partners.

The World Bank’s Zimbabwe Gender-Based Violence Assessment report offers a disturbing insight into the everyday dangers faced by women in their own homes. The findings indicate that approximately 39.4% of women have been subjected to physical violence, while an estimated 11.6% have endured sexual violence. These numbers not only highlight the prevalence of GBV but also hint at the significant number of women trapped in cycles of abuse, often silenced by the fear of reprisal and the daunting prospect of financial insecurity.

This situation is further exacerbated by the country’s healthcare challenges, particularly concerning maternal health. Zimbabwe’s maternal mortality rate stands alarmingly high at 363 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2022, starkly overshadowing the Sustainable Development Goal target of 70 by 2030. The World Bank emphasizes the critical need for improved access to healthcare and support services for pregnant women, underscoring the interconnectedness of GBV with broader health and societal issues.

The global context adds another layer of complexity to the issue. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, along with UN Women, reports that over five women or girls are killed every hour by a family member worldwide. This grim statistic is a testament to the global scale of the problem, with the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing conflicts, and climate change exacerbating the situation. These factors have not only intensified violence against women and girls but also amplified existing challenges, introducing new threats to their safety and well-being.

In Zimbabwe, the response to the scourge of GBV has been criticized for being lackluster, with authorities accused of paying lip service to a fight that requires urgent and decisive action. The country faces a critical juncture where the collective will of its institutions, communities, and individuals is needed to combat GBV effectively. This entails not only addressing the immediate symptoms of the problem but also tackling the deep-seated cultural and societal norms that perpetuate violence against women.

The path forward requires a multi-faceted approach, combining legal reforms, educational campaigns, and community engagement to change attitudes towards GBV. It also necessitates the strengthening of support systems for survivors, ensuring they have access to necessary healthcare, legal assistance, and socio-economic support. Moreover, there is an urgent need for robust data collection and research to understand the full scope of GBV in Zimbabwe, enabling targeted interventions and policies.

The fight against GBV in Zimbabwe is not just a matter of national concern but a global imperative. It reflects broader issues of gender inequality and human rights violations that resonate worldwide. As the international community moves towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, addressing GBV with the seriousness it deserves is crucial for ensuring a just and equitable world. Zimbabwe’s struggle against GBV is a stark reminder of the long road ahead, requiring unwavering commitment, resilience, and solidarity from all quarters of society.


Source: Newsday

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