‘Police officers must be trained to handle GBV cases’

Police officers should undergo training on how to handle Gender-Based Violence (GBV) cases in order to provide timely services to victims.

Speaking during the commemoration of 16 days of activism at the National Art Gallery, Friday, Prisca Dube from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the ability to deal with GBV issues should be a pre-requisite for all members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police. 

The event was hosted by Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) in partnership with the Ministry of Women Affairs under the theme “Orange the world, fund, respond, prevent and collect.” 

“During this lockdown period there has been a rise in the number of reported cases of GBV. This is mostly because the victims have been involuntarily confined in the same space with their perpetrators, leaving them more vulnerable,” Dube said.

“Covid-19 has exposed a lot of cracks within our critical systems which need immediate attention. If all members of the ZRP are trained to deal with GBV issues we would have an effective solution. Some victims fail to access their much-needed services because those in charge of the Victim Friendly Unit would not be around.”

ZRP has a Victim Friendly Unit (VFU) which handles crimes of sexual nature committed against women and children in a manner sensitive to the victim.

Dube further said the issue of ‘Sextortion’ is likely to remain problematic because there are no laws nor policies speaking directly to it yet.

She noted that what makes it more difficult to prosecute it is that in many cases both parties would have benefitted from the situation.

A participant at the event implored the police to be more vigilant and helpful to people who approach them seeking assistance.

“There are times when a woman goes to the police station to report a case of GBV after being abused by her husband but the police don’t seem to take these issues seriously. You get to the station and the police lazily tell you that they have no resources to come to your house and make an arrest,” she said.

“What is worse is the fact that they sometimes tell you to go home and bring your perpetrator. How exactly do they expect an abused woman to be able to convince her abusive husband to go with her to the police station for his own arrest?”

The participant said there are times when victims fail to access help from the police as they would be claiming that the personnel in charge of the victim friendly unit are not on duty. 

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