Hwange is battling to contain se_xual and physical violence cases perpetrated against young girls amid revelations that the figure has ballooned to 97% of gender-based violence (GBV) cases reported in the district since beginning of the year.
The revelations were made by Bulawa Makililo Trust (BMT) director Anna Mandizha-Ncube on the sidelines of a GBV workshop in Victoria Falls recently.
Ncube said it was worrying that GBV cases happened under the watch of traditional leaders in the name of defending cultural practices and traditions, with many of them being resolved at village level.
“Over the past years, we had seen a decrease in GBV cases, but according to police statistics, it was revealed that the cases have risen from 65% as of last year to 97% this year. This is a worrying trend because some of them go unreported. Of the reported cases, the perpetrators are targeting very young girls and some youths between the ages of 10-25 years mainly being se_xually and physically abused. Yes, we have some small boys too who have reported cases of abuse, but the number is not as significant as that of girls,” she said.
Mandizha-Ncube bemoaned lack of access to health facilities and police services by victims, which meant some of the cases went unreported.
“Countrywide, the GBV cases are at 22,6% of which 17% come from Matabeleland North province and out of that number, 14% is derived from Hwange district, mainly rural.
”This is because of unavailability of access to services like police and health institutions. We have villages like Lubangwe and Nyongolo in Matetsi area where people stay 62km away from the hospital and police and these people are unable to report successfully such abuses. There is also Pandamatenga (Robins Camp) which is about 70km from Hwange town and Victoria Falls and these people don’t have access to services needed and that exposes them,” she said.
Mandizha-Ncube said they had partnered African Sonke Gender Justice (Sonke) and SafAids to conduct awareness campaigns in Hwange communities and had also roped in traditional and religious leaders and journalists.
“We need an inclusive approach to address this situation, because through GBV, that’s when HIV and Aids cases also increase. We have discovered that some of our leaders fuel these cases because they consent to a 12-year-old child on taking up the responsibility of marriage. Some of these acts are perpetuated by n’angas in the name of following traditions. We strongly urge them to shun presiding over GBV cases. Their duty is to be watch-dogs and all cases must be reported to police and judicial courts,” she said.
Mandizha-Ncube urged journalists to report GBV cases with sensitivity so that victims do not feel humiliated.
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