26 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Govt Launches National Gender Based Violence Strategy

Photo: IRIN
File Photo:Women collect firewood in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Government has launched the National Gender Based Violence Strategy, which provides a mechanism to deal with gender-based violence in the country. Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Olivia Muchena launched the strategy at the national commemoration of the 16 days of Activism Against Gender based Violence in Harare during the weekend.

The commemorations were held under the theme "From Peace in the Home to Peace in our Communities"

Minister Muchena said the National Gender Based Violence Strategy 2012-2015 provided stakeholders with a framework, which outlines areas where greater effort should be placed to address challenges in a more co-ordinated approach.

"The four "Ps"; Prevention, protection, participation and Programmes, have increased awareness on domestic violence and this is evidenced by the increase in the number of survivors seeking recourse through legal and health services," she said.

Minister Muchena said peace should begin from homes and spread to the communities.

"We need to start from our homes by upholding the principle of family unity and dignity as well as strengthening of traditional mediation systems as we seek to end domestic violence," she said.

She applauded traditional leaders and cultural institutions for supporting Government's efforts to curb domestic violence.

Traditional leaders, she said, provided shelter to most victims of domestic violence.

Also launched on the same occasion was the Standard Operating Procedures for Safe Shelters in Zimbabwe document, which is expected to provide guidance on the operations of shelters.

It is expected that all shelters and safe houses being run by the civil society and Government will adopt and implement recommended standards to ensure temporary refuge for women fleeing abusive situations.

Minister Muchena said the Ministry was also committed to the inclusion of men and boys in addressing domestic violence. She said men could be victimised because of their gender.

On the international Men's day, Minister Muchena invited Padare and other men's organisations to partner with the Ministry to organise belated celebrations at a date to be announced.

Earlier reports had mistakenly stated that Minister Muchena had marked the International Men's Day at a function in Mt Pleasant where people wined and dined.

"No such function took place and this is why we now need to organise belated celebrations.

"The International Men's Day theme and sub theme address issues against men and boys," she said.

UN Women Country Representative, Mrs Hoddan Addou said the launching of the two documents showed the commitment by Government and Civil society in ending domestic violence.

"Zimbabwe is to be commended for setting the policy framework for gender based violence prevention and response which includes the Domestic Violence Act," she said.

She said surveys have shown a slight decline in women who reported cases of spousal violence from 31 percent to 29 percent. Zimbabwe has a good track record in ratifying key international and regional instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women, the AU Protocol on the Rights of Women and the SADC Protocol on gender and development.

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