Cases of gender-based violence reported through the national GBV hotline almost tripled during the Covid-19 lockdowns from 1 930 in 2019 to more than 5 507 in 2020, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Tsitsi Gezi said yesterday while officiating at a dialogue session on this year’s 16 Days of Activism against GBV.
The 16 Days of Activism against GBV are commemorated globally every year from November 25.
Cde Gezi said the rise in cases of GBV was worrying despite progressive laws.
“Despite the existence of progressive laws, cases of GBV continue to increase. The country has become the epicentre of some of the most brutal cases of violence against women and girls,” she said.
Cde Gezi said GBV had an economic cost to the nation as it prevented both the perpetrator and their victims from participating in economic activities.
Besides the violence itself there were related issues, and the number of child marriages and teen pregnancies were also on the rise and were a form of GBV.
UN Country Office representative Ms Madelena Monoja commended Government for recognising GBV as a human rights violation and urged women political leaders to play a leading role in the fight against the scourge.
GBV was a threat to the attainment of sustainable development goals, and eliminating GBV was therefore, critical.
Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association director Ms Abigail Matsvayi called on Government to establish more specialised courts to deal with sexual offences and ensure speedy trials of offenders.
This would help people understand that such behaviour would not be tolerated.