SOURCE: Sindiso Mhlophe, SENIOR STAFF WRITER – firstname.lastname@example.org
GENDER equality advocacy group, Musasa Project, has teamed up with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to provide four additional gender-based violence (GBV) response lines as part of efforts to fight the increasing scourge amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
This comes as the Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol Barometer 2020 recently revealed that 68 percent of women in Zimbabwe have experienced GBV while 46 percent of the country’s men have perpetrated violence against females.
According to the UNFPA and Musasa Project, the hotlines are being managed by specialised counsellors who provide remote psychosocial support through voice, text and WhatsApp to survivors.
“Two of the extra four lines also provide dedicated remote psychosocial support (PSS) to GBV service providers and frontline care workers who, besides being there to assist others, may also face challenging times including overload and mental health distress in the pandemic context.
“The text option in particular has demonstrated its efficacy for those cases where making a complaint call while sitting next to your perpetrator is not a choice,” UNFPA said.
Musasa Project’s programmes officer Sharon Matingwina said the expansion of the hotlines had strengthened the provision of essential services provided by her organisation during the Covid-19 lockdown where movement has been restricted.
Since April this year, Matingwina revealed that Musasa Project has assisted 10 849 GBV survivors across its various platforms.
“We only had one toll-free hotline, an Econet platform for survivors and those seeking GBV services.
people who do not use Econet. For example, in areas like Defe in Gokwe, the only network service available is Telecel.
“The introduction of hotlines on all available mobile networks will ensure that survivors can access services in the comfort of their homes and the privacy they deserve,” Matingwina said.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country, Zimbabwe’s Health Demographic Survey indicated that more than 35 percent of married women, aged between 15 and 49, experience spousal violence committed by their husband or partner while one in three girls is married off before she turns 18, often to older men.