UN Women spotlights GBV issues in Umzingwane

02 Dec, 2022 - 00:12 0 Views
UN Women spotlights GBV issues in Umzingwane

The Herald

Sifelani Tsiko

Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor

Poor parenting, lack of awareness of gender-based violence (GBV) referral pathways and the heavy presence of artisanal miners have pushed many underprivileged girls in Umzingwane to desperate measures, but with dire and unwanted consequences.

All this emerged during a dialogue platform organised by UN Women in partnership with Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) under the Spotlight Initiative at Ezinkondweni, Mawabeni, Irisvale and Esigodini in Umzingwane district.

This rural public campaign sought to raise awareness and end sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in public spaces.

“Gold panners harass and abuse our young girls. Makorokozas or Ogweja (panners) show off their money and lure our young girls into sex,” said Sithabiso Nkala of Ezinkondweni.

“So, most girls are trapped because they are lured by these gold panners. The results are quite tragic for us — girls get impregnated. This is a major problem for us and having dialogue platforms such as this one organised under the Spotlight Initiatives, helps us a lot to understand the crisis we have here.”

Nkala said most women are not aware of GBV referral pathways — that guide all services that are required by survivors.

To address problems related to early child sexual abuses and child marriages in Umzingwane district a consortia comprising the Government, ZWLA and other NGOs are spearheading programmes to raise awareness on the impact of GBV on young women, girls and                                            boys.

The programmes running under the Spotlight Initiative supported through a partnership between the European Union (EU) and United Nations Women are aimed at ending harmful practices and violence against women and girls.

Zimbabwe is among the 20 countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and the Caribbean which are participating in the four-year programme which started in 2019 and ends next year for the first phase.

The country was supported by the EU to the tune of US$30 million for the first phase to help Zimbabwe meet some of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 3 and 5) on empowering women and girls to realise their full potential in a violence free, gender-responsive and inclusive environment. Some parents in Umzingwane say too much emphasis on children’s rights has led to failure to strike a balance between overprotection and too much freedom.

“Today’s children know everything. They want to experiment too much. They google, watch pornography on mobile phones, they spend too much time on WhatsApp and TV. We have lost them and we no longer have control over them,” said Mujobhi Nkomo (72) of Irisvale resettlement area.

“They do not want to take advice from elders. They do not want to work. And the result is they want an easy life. Gold panners take advantage of this and abuse them. Now, we are all crying because of unwanted teenage pregnancies which we are all seeing here.”

Matshaga Ndlovu (90), another Irisvale villager, said parents have lost control of their children because of failure to realise that children should progressively take up responsibilities as they mature.

“Children now have more rights than parents. This is killing our children. The young ones are expected to take on more and more responsibilities as they get older,” he said.

“We warn them not to fall prey to gold panners but they do not listen. They know it all. But when things go wrong, it is us parents that pay the price. These children full of rights cannot take full responsibility when things go wrong.

“Parents become financially responsible for their child’s misdemeanours. Let us check where the problem is and strike a balance. Condoms are strewn all over the bush these days. Girls and boys are having sex, there is no control.”

Says councillor Jabulani Makhala of Ward 13 in Irisvale: “We are grateful for this dialogue session on GBV issues. The discussion in our rural community has kicked-off debate on pertinent issues that affect our people.

“When people speak out it becomes easier to find common solutions to the problem of gender abuse, teenage pregnancies and to know what to do when we have problems,” he said.

Innocent Katsande, UN Women communications specialist said empowerment of local communities to find their own solutions was critical.

“Sustaining dialogues on GBV in communities is critical to ensure comprehensive mindset shifts, the involvement and active participation of local community influencers in the fight against gender based violence,” he said.

“Women should not be left to fight alone in our rural communities. Discussions such as these, help men and women to find common solutions to the problems they face here in Umzingwane.”

The national 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence was launched recently in Uzumba to help fight all forms of gender based violence (GBV) and harmful Practices.

The 16 days of Activism against GBV is an internationally recognised campaign held every year from 25 November to 10 December.

This global campaign aims to raise awareness on GBV as a human rights issue, strengthen work around GBV and provide a forum for sharing progress, strategies and challenges in ending GBV.

It also seeks to demonstrate solidarity with survivors of GBV.

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