By Jil Mangachena
Seke- Chitungwiza Community Development Network (CCDN) conducted a car rally and road show in commemoration of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence in Chitungwiza over the weekend. The car rally started at Makoni police station at 1000 hours before snaking into Makoni shopping centre igniting a carnival atmosphere as shoppers whistled in support of the messages displayed on banners, fliers and posters held by participants who included two dance groups and a drama crew.
The car-rally-road show (campaign) was in support of the international theme “Orange the world: Raise money to end violence against women and girls”. CCDN’s theme for this year’s campaign was raising awareness of the Domestic Violence Act chapter 5:16 and the Landmark Constitutional Judgment on ending child and forced marriages
The campaign was led by CCDN staff members, volunteers, dance and drama groups who interacted with residents of Chitungwiza and raising their awareness on Gender Based Violence, the Domestic Violence Act and the Landmark Constitutional Judgment on Child and Forced Marriages.
The main proceedings were staged at Unit L shops where key speakers addressed the crowd urging them to familiarize themselves with the Domestic violence act and shun violence at home.
CCDN’s gender officer, Magret Chogugudza said: “Despite incessant rains that started around the time we started our campaign, we were determined to go through with it. We are also glad that there was a great turnout of citizens who were engaged through the road-show and some of them raised concerns and shared their views regarding these issues.”
Chogugudza highlighted that there are several reasons why gender based violence continues to be a problem in Chitungwiza and Zimbabwean communities at large.
CCDN Programs Manager, Mr Admire Mutize urged the audience to report domestic and gender based violence including forced and early marriages which they witness in their communities for justice to prevail.
“Many victims of domestic abuse and gender based violence do not report the cases or when they do report they sometimes revoke their statements after the perpetrator apologizes. This is usually because men are the bread winners of the family and women are afraid to report abuse against them in fear of being left with no-one to take care of them financially if the husband is sentenced to a jail term”, said Admire Mutize.
“Gender structures of society also greatly contribute to the abuse of women as they are expected to be submissive to Man and their voice becomes limited. Gender structures leave them without a voice to fight their male counterparts. These are some of the greatest problems we, as a community, are facing in the fight against gender based violence, forced and early child marriages”, said Mutize.
Mutize urged the government to initiate programmes that help provide relief, in form of shelter and finance, to victims of domestic violence.
“Victims also need to seek psychological help after abuse for this will help them recover after violence has been instigated on them”, said Mutize.
According to statistics, domestic violence account for more than 90% of murder cases that go through the high court in Harare and in the majority of the cases women are victims.
“All this is not to say that domestic violence is only perpetrated against women. Men are victims too, it is just that in most cases women are the victims and men the perpetrators becauseof their masculine as compared to women”, said Chogugudza
Domestic violence is highly prevalent in the Chitungwiza and the campaign showed that many people lacked knowledge about these issues and the procedures to follow when they experience abuse. Some women even revealed that they accept domestic violence against them as normal.
“Who will take care of me when my husband goes to jail and women must be under their husbands even they are victims of gender based violence”, said Gogo Taurai (56) who reside in Unit L.
A Chitungwiza resident from Seke Unit M, who refused to be named, said “We (men) are laughed at if we go to report violence against us at the police. Our society does not believe that man are victims at the hands of a woman”.
The road show encouraged all victims to report when they are abused in order to curb the problem of domestic and gender based violence, child and forced marriages. It encouraged both women and men to say NO TO DOMESTIC ABUSE and everyone to participate in the fight against all forms of abuse.