Civic organisations have called for a clear national sexual harassment policy to curb the increase in gender-based violence that has been fuelling the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the country over the years.
Addressing journalists at the Zimbabwe Association of Church Related Hospitals (ZACH) seminar in Gweru last week, Start Awareness Support Action (SASA) programmes manager Mr Maxwell Kambiro, said gender-based violence was a brain child of unbalanced gender relations that manifested as violence against women and children.
Most of the gender based violence definitions link the phenomenon to the unbalanced gender relations that exist in the society that manifests as violence against women and children. This has resulted in the high prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in the country hence the need of a clear GBV/Sexual harassment policy," he said.
Africa countries have the highest rate of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Mr Kambiro said HIV/AIDS and GBV were terrible twins which often core existed.
"According to a study, women who are beaten or dominated by their partners are much more likely to become infected by HIV than women who live in non-violent households. HIV-transmission risk increases during violent or forced sex situations," he said.
"The abrasions caused through forced penetration facilitate entry of the virus a fact that is especially true for adolescent girls, whose reproductive tracts are less fully developed. While the full extent of violence against women is not known, current research from the World Health Organisation indicates that in some countries one in four women may experience sexual violence by an intimate partner in her life time. Added to this is the violence that women experience from strangers."
He also said that GBV may result in stress, which was known for compromising the immune system.