By Joyce Mukucha
As 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV) came to a close, Katswe Sistahood together with Trocaire and Plan International joined hands with various churches and the general public of Epworth community in launching the SpeakOut Campaign against Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV).
Church leaders were urged to fight violence, advocate for unity, be the voice of the voiceless, give hope and confidence to the society as well as become champions of peace that lights the world.
Speaking during the campaign launch in Epworth on the 11th of December 2019, the Archbishop of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, Harare East who was the guest of honour Richman Ncube said the day was critical as it came at an opportune time just soon after commemorations of 16 Days of Activism against GBV and he urged the community to become strong in breaking the silence. He said speaking out against SGBV was key as it lead to the development of communities and the nation at large.
He added that the economic challenges that are currently prevailing in Zimbabwe were also triggering violence and highlighted that churches must be the pillar for the weak, survivors and victims of SGBV to lean on.
“It is a great honour to be invited on this important day to partner with Trocaire and Katswe Sistahood in launching this SpeakOut campaign against SGBV. AS churches, we must unite and speak with one voice so as to fight against the culture of SGBV. It is your duty as churches to ensure that societies live in peace and it is also your duty to encourage those who are silent yet they are being abused to speak out. If others don’t have a voice, then it is also your responsibility in your different churches to break the silence for such individuals,” he said.
Trocaire Country Director Sarah McCan emphasised that GBV prevents women and girls to access education, quality health services and participating in decision making processes. She alluded that community leaders and activists can play a pivotal role in as much as purging violence is concerned.
“Speaking out is key, let’s all support each other in the journey of ending SGBV against women, girls, men and boys in our societies. I urge community leaders to be on the forefront in advocating for a violence free society. The church leaders and your congregations, you must put your faith into action to end SGBV. When people are living in a world envisaged with love, peace and unity, that can lead Zimbabwe to shine and prosper,” Said McCan.
Chengetai Chininga, the Katswe Sistahood Programs Officer highlighted that the organisation was also spearheading a programme called SASA Faith which is aimed at working with faith communities in preventing HIV/AIDS and violence in different societies. Not speaking out, she said should not be an option to ensure that GBV is uprooted in families, communities and societies.
“Today I urge you to speak out, don’t continue to be silent whilst violence continue to take place in schools, homes, churches and other places. Katswe Sistahood remain committed in ending all forms of violence. So far we are working with 60 churches in Epworth in this programme. Currently we are on awareness raising phase so that people can have a better understanding pertaining SGBV. This is a three-year programme focusing on Epworth and we are conducting it together with our consortium that is Plan International, Childline and J.F. Kapnek Trust.,” said Chininga.
Representatives from various churches gave solidarity messages and pledged that they were going to become models of peace and champions in ending SGBV. “This programme has taught us a lot and as AFM, we will fight and work together to reduce cases of violence in the church and in society at large,” said Precious Dhliwayo, a representative from Africa Apostolic Church (AFM).
The Government is also taking strides to ensure that timely access to services to survivors especially health services for survivors of sexual violence is provided.
“We are taking services to the people through mobile one stop centres that are offering on-the-spot services in communities,” said Ernest Chimboza, the Harare Provincial Development Officer in the Ministry of Women Affairs. Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development.
Gender Based Violence remains a huge problem in the Country. The Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey for 2015 confirms that violence against women and girls remains a huge problem. At least 1 in every 3 women aged 15-49 having experienced physical violence since the age of 15 & 27% percent of women 15-49 have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives.