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Breaking the cycle of Gender-Based violence

12.04.2024 | By Darlington Gatsi

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CONFINED in a violent marriage, Rose Mweneali fought for her life.

Mweneali, a 39 year old woman from  sprawling rural area of Shamva in Mashonaland Central, hers is a sad tale.

Battling chronic tuberculosis, commonly known as TB, Rose was left for dead, suffering third degree burns after her husband lit gas on her.

“I was on TB treatment, so I asked him for tuition fees for the children. He lost it and set a gas stove and was burnt on my back ,” Mweneali told NewZimbabwe.com.

Mweneali’s matrimonial home turned into a living hell whenever her husband, then a miner at a local mine, returned under the influence of alcohol.

Her marriage became the cage that trapped her in silence as her husband unleashed violence in full view of their three children.

“I have never known peace in my marriage since I was married. When he returned from a beer binge he would take his frustrations on me,” she said.

After enduring years of  pain and anguish, the burns on her back became a breaking point.

A protection order granted by the courts offered some hope but her husband initially disregarded it.

“One day I just decided that it was enough and I could not take it anymore. I went to the courts for a protection order. Initially he did not respect the order but he later realised that by violating it he would end in jail,” said Mweneali.

GBV, a shadow pandemic 

A recent report by the World Bank on violence highlighted how pervasive gender based violence is in Zimbabwean societies.

According to the World Bank, two in five women are suffering from physical  violence in Zimbabwe.

In conservative societies like Shamva, this paints a grim picture of women experiencing violence in the hands of their spouses.

Despite recording progress in eradicating gender based violence and the government launching the Zimbabwe National GBV strategy 2023 -2030, rural areas remain hotbeds of the vice.

Local nongovernmental organisations such as Forum for African Educationists Zimbabwe (FAWEZI) are plugging the gap working with the Ministry of women’s affairs to tame this scourge in communities.

Roping in community leaders and traditional leaders in rural areas, communities are concientised about gender based violence and amplifying voices of women and girls.

FAWEZI director Rujeko Chibaya said the culture of suffering in silence is being broken as victims are raising their voices.

“This is a challenge that affects everyone. We have seen improvement in reporting violence from schools as well as in the communities. There is knowledge in terms of the referral pathways, where do I report because it is one thing to be violated and another to know what to do when it happens.

“There was a culture of silence around violence against women. The moment that you talk about it means we are normalising conversations around violence,” said Chibaya.

Shamva, a mining area, is replete with cases of gender based violence which have been attributed to drug and substance abuse.

For Mweneali, the scars are a reminder of the horrific night that almost took her life, testament to her strength and will to survive.

“The protection order I was granted was not for us to divorce but for him not to abuse me. He no longer abuses me and he is aware of the consequences of abusing a woman because of the awareness campaigns,” said Mweneali

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