BULAWAYO – The government has been challenged to hasten the process of implementing stiffer penalties for gender-based violence perpetrators, as the country continues to record an increase in human rights violation cases.
In a speech read on her behalf, Zimbabwe Gender Commission chairperson, Margaret Mukuhanana-Sangarwe said Gender-Based Violence (GBV) remains both prevalent and vastly under-reported.
“Many survivors decide to suffer in silence rather than risk stigmatization or due to lack of punitive and deterrent sentences.
“The Commission is also concerned with inadequate service provision for survivors of GBV which include access to justice, health, and psychosocial support.
We urge the government to complement the work that Non-Governmental Organisations are doing by establishing government-run shelters throughout the country.
“The Commission will continue to engage government and other stakeholders in a bid to enact legal framework which provides for stiffer and deterrent penalties which include mandatory sentencing for rape and other related sexual offenses,” she said.
Sangarwe was addressing Bulawayo residents who joined the rest of the world in commemorating 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence at the Bulawayo City Hall.
The event ran under the theme “All Lives Matter: End Gender-Based Violence Now”.
The campaign, which runs from 25 November to 10 December every year, aims at raising awareness against all forms of violence against women, children, and men.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Judith Ncube bemoaned the spike in cases of child and women abuse.
“As a country, we need to deal decisively with such moral degeneration that has affected families, communities and the country at large. We cannot progress as a nation if we continue to ignore such behaviours that deprive our children of the future that they deserve,” she said.
Ncube also commended the government for setting up One-Stop-Centres and safe shelters that ensure survivors get GBV services and provide protection on those at risk of further violence from their partners.
The Bulawayo One-Stop-Centre is strategically located at Mpilo Hospital.
It enables victims to easily access legal, medical, and counselling services under one roof.
Statistics compiled from police records have shown that 22 women are raped daily and at least 646 women are sexually abused monthly in Zimbabwe.