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Gender Based Violence and the blind, mute and deaf society!

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By Isaac Mupwanyiwa:

The African society is mostly patriarchal, man dominates. The engrained culture that recognizes male superiority has made it difficult to curtail violence against women. Women have been forcefully conditioned to believe that man are above them!. Most African women has accepted this misconception.

The growth of women activism has managed to create an awareness among women to stand as equal beings. The problem now, despite the awareness is culture, most women are gagged to air their grievances as the society may ostracize such women. Music, film, press and magazines has a tendency of portraying women as sex objects to pleasure man.

Gender based violence is a two way thing but now it’s mostly interpreted as violence against women. Man rarely air their grievances publicly and suffers silently. Cases of men who goes through abuse by their spouses or partners are rampant but are rarely reported. Even law enforcement agents may not take a man seriously when he reports a case of abuse against a women. They only take it serious when there are injuries, death or damage to property and may usually encourage an out of the court settlement.

Socially, men are not supportive to each other when one is going through abuse from a female spouse. *Charles has been going through abuse from his girlfriend who stabbed him with a knife several times but nothing has been done to help him out from his friends. Although the police had encouraged him to file for a peace order, family and friends have always insisted on finding common ground with his spouse.
Worse still, they laugh behind his back calling him weak and foolish.

Most gender based violence cases involves a women getting abused. They go through rough and tough situations in marriages and relationships. Violence comes in various ways it can be psychological or physical. Some men openly cheat on their spouses disregarding the emotional damage.

With Southern Africa being the HIV hotspot staying with a promiscuous spouse is risky. South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana have the highest rates of HIV and AIDS infection. In most cases women are physically abused through assault and battery! Members of the society instead of doing something to alleviate the growing endemic of gender based violence, they try to make peace between the abuser and the victim. In such negotiations the victim is coerced to forgive the abuser or made to accept blame. The abuser may be made to apologize verbally or made to pay a token of guilty but mostly that will not stop the abuse.

The dying economies of Southern Africa is making it worse. Lack of employment opportunities has pushed women to prostitution for survival. In prostitution they expose themselves to HIV, AIDS and STIs. There is also high abuse through assault, at its worst murder from prospective clients.

Those in marriage have been forced to endure abusive relationships as they fear of the unknown if they move out of the marriage. The gender based activists are also not doing enough to assist as the numbers are overwhelming. On the other hand corruption is rife in civic organisations and the real intended beneficiaries get nothing. There is more of lip service than physical help as most civic organisations that fight against gender violence are limited to psychological counselling and short term assistance. This makes women subservient to their abusers as going forward or backwards looks like it’s the same. Government social services also offers little support to the victims and this gives little hope to the chances of eradicating gender based violence especially against women and children.

As for the Zimbabwean community in South Africa gender based violence is unreported and mostly women suffer in silence. The fact that most women are undocumented and lack basic knowledge on how to get help against abusers they endure endless pain.

Politics and economics are on top of the agenda and this pushes aside the gender based violence issue down the priority list. With the COVID-19 pandemic with us very little is done to help the needy women!. South Africa which is more liberal than the rest of SADC member countries is reeling under the ever growing cases of women rape and murders. In a statement made by the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa he labelled femicide a national disaster. Not a day passes in South Africa without a case of horrific rape or murder of women!.

Everyone should play a role in fighting this growing endemic before it spirals out of hand. There is need to comprise some of our traditional values to fit the modern societal needs. Political parties, churches, traditional leaders, the government and everyone must play a part against GBV. The continuous profiling of female politicians as prostitutes doesn’t help it either. Political emotions must not misdirect equality on gender in this modern society. Political parties must condemn their supporters that advocate for violence against women politicians as political campaign.

The African society must stand up, open its eyes and speak out against all forms of violence. Churches, political parties must be at the forefront for they have great influence in our society. Schools must play a role in shaping the young minds so they grow up as responsible citizens with respect for humanity.

*not real name.

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