Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) has called on police and communities to cultivate a relationship that enables women to freely report domestic violence cases.
There is usually an outcry that most women fear going to police due to the attitude of some officers they encounter while reporting cases.
This emerged during a stakeholder engagement meeting in Bulawayo Wednesday between women and authorities on accountability over issues such as gender based violence, rape and child abuse.
WCoZ Bulawayo Chapter committee member, Minella Mono lamented that women are not treated well when they report gender based violence cases to police.
“Women are not usually heard when they report issues affecting them. They are usually not taken seriously by the police disregarding the fact that one would be vulnerable when they go to the police station and need utmost care,” she said.
Mono said besides authorities, families also had to be taught how to deal with domestic violence.
“Ending violence starts in our homes where parents have to teach children about sexual, physical and emotional violence. It is our collective responsibility plus the police to curb violence,” she added.
Another member Nomalanga Dube said communities and police must build working relationships that encouraged women to report cases of gender based violence.
“There should be a friendly environment between communities and police that allows women to report their cases freely because in most instances women are afraid to seek assistance. The police have to open their stations so that women are familiar with the police environment and know where to go should they encounter abuse,” she said.
In the same vein, Dube urged women to eliminate fear in order to report gender based violence issues and receive justice.
A participant at the meeting, Patricia Stuart claimed due to the nature of the security, women were afraid to build a relationship with the police.
“We are also afraid to even report our cases to police as we feel victimised by the same law enforcement agents we report to,” she said.
Stuart noted that facing male police officers often made it harder for women to open up.
“We hope that the police will look into this issue and assign more female officers to deal with women because reporting a rape case to another male is very challenging considering the circumstances.”
Meanwhile, chairperson of the Bulawayo WCoZ chapter, Mildred Sandi encouraged women to be more versatile in light of the fast changing world.
“We now live in a vast changing world, which is why it is important for women to be aware of what is happening around their communities. As women we have to make sure there is security first within our homes and once we step out, it is the obligation of police to protect us,” said the chairperson.
Sandi also called for the establishment of a strong network between women and police.
In response, the Zimbabwe Republic Police Victim Friendly Unit, District Co-ordinator for Bulawayo Central, Assistant Inspector Ellen Dzirikure taught women to report rape cases within 72hours.
“We encourage women not to hesitate and report rape cases, gender based violence issues and child abuse amongst other issues they face immediately. As the police we will do our best to seek justice for the victims,” she said.