Gender-based violence plagues the world with men being the major perpetrators of abuse towards women and children, and society is finding it hard to protect survivors.
In Zimbabwe, GBV is still a discussed issue, 37 years after the country gained its independence and women in abusive relationships are forced to defend not only their children but themselves.
Emthonjeni Women’s Forum raises awareness on Gender Based Violence, they work with women, and young women by giving counselling and court support services. Melissa Ndlovu from the organisation states, “We work with children at schools but not directly with them but through their parents, that are involved in abuse such as, early forced marriages and cultural practices.”
Sexual violence is the most common act of violence towards women and in many cases; men are the main perpetrators of sexual abuses. Sexual violence can be unwanted penetration, forced marriages, forced abortion and any other that undermines the sexual integrity of an individual. Rape cases are witnessed worldwide and are severe
Physical abuse refers to the physical trauma and the damage to the wellbeing of the victim. This includes pushing, slapping, punching and so on. In most physical violence cases, women are afraid to report their spouses I fear of more abuse from him or his family. This forces women to stay in abusive relationships that has seen fatalities in some instances.
A victim of physical violence said that, “The first time my boyfriend beat me was after I had gone drinking with some friends and he got angry. When you are involved with abusers, they will make you feel bad and like you are wrong. I did not have the guts to report him because I was so scared and I really loved him. He would tell me how privileged I was because I had both parents and that would make me feel bad and end up giving him what he wants.”
One in three women experienced physical violence since the age of 15 and it shows how extensive abuse is in Zimbabwe.
Verbal abuse causes psychological trauma to the victim who and words truly have a lasting impact and abusive men use name-calling, yelling to inflict damage to the woman’s psyche. These insults can cause extensive damage to the victim’s emotional state and has seen many committing suicide.
Noxolo Tshabangu says, “People will say it’s because someone will be in love and be heartbroken but I really think it is about dominating and controlling each other’s behaviour and that is silly.”
There are numerous cases of violence towards men by women and are either verbally or physically abused by women close to them, but fail to report because of shame. This makes it hard to help any male victim of gender-based violence.
Some young men also feel the need to address GBV and one says, “I’m from the notion that it is barbaric practice which affects both women and men, albeit women are more on the receiving side. It has no positive benefits for anyone in a civilized society and should be stopped.”
The 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an important initiative for spreading awareness against abuse towards women and children and informs men on the evils of abuse, and therefore it would create a society void of and violence.