Ending sexual and gender based violence through capacity building
Although it is recognized as a violation of human rights, sexual and gender-based violence(SGBV) are still rampant and are taking place on a global scale. Whilst the World Bank reports that more than one-third of women have experienced some form of gender-based violence, according to the ZimStats and UNICEF nearly 40% of women in Zimbabwe aged 15-49 have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner. Musasa recorded that cases of gender-based violence doubled in 2019 (19,000) compared to 2020 (40,000) and between January and August 2021, 26,000 cases had been reported. The impacts of such violence extend far beyond the individual survivors, affecting households and communities, and spanning across generations. They can range from physical injuries to psychological trauma and loss of livelihood or employment. Importantly SGBV affects women’s participation resulting in women remaining underrepresented, with VAW identified as the single largest factor why women shun participation in politics. SGBV involves a range of perpetrators and takes many different forms, from workplace harassment, domestic and intimate partner violence, to sexual violence, female genital mutilation, sex-selective abortion, trafficking, and in the most extreme cases, femicide. Despite its prevalence, these forms of violence tend to be a hidden problem and under-reported with only 7% of women who have ever experienced violence having reported to a formal source such as the police, health systems, or social services (Palermo et al 2013). Such under-reporting can be detrimental; not only does it limit our understanding of the actual magnitude of GBV, but it potentially weakens criminal deterrence and perpetuate the incidence of such crimes. In Zimbabwe, SGBV remains both prevalent and a vastly under-reported phenomenon, as many survivors decide to suffer in silence rather than risk stigmatization or an unresponsive legal system.
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