Cases of gender-based violence have increased across the country since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown measures in March this year, rising by 70% in the last four months.
According to the Musasa Project, a total of 2 768 cases related to violence against women and girls have been recorded in Bulawayo and other parts of the country from March to June this year, a rise by 70 %.
“Statistics indicate that 94% of the cases are women who are being exploited sexually, economically and physically with 90% of the cases being partner violence and physical violence recording 38%,” Musasa Project said.
“Economic violence recordings are at 19% with sexual violence recorded at 50%,” Women’s Action Group (WAG) programmes officer, Clarah Mhlaba said in a separate interview with NewZimbabwe.com.
Mhlaba went on to encourage victims of gender-based violence to seek assistance from various support structures in their communities.
“As an organisation, we are encouraging women going through abuse during this lockdown to seek for support from various support structures that exist in their communities. For example, they can approach community development coordinators and case care workers who can assist on issues to do with child abuse,” she added.
In Bulawayo, Mhlaba said the victims can work with Musasa Project and the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) that offer various support services including safe shelter.
She also urged the victims to visit the police’s Victim Friendly Unit which offers legal services to survivors of abuse and also encouraged women to be self-reliant so as to avoid socio-economic conflicts in homes.
“Women should engage in small businesses or projects to widen their sources of income to curb poverty and gender-based violence and take advantage of online marketing that many are using during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Those women who want to be economically empowered should visit organisations such as the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economic Association, Self Help Foundation and the Ministry of Women Affairs for them to get advice on projects they can venture into as well get grants that can assist them to implement the projects,” added Mhlaba.