Legal Watchdog Says Gender-Based Violence High During Lockdown 

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By Alois Vinga

A LEGAL watchdog, Veritas has urged the government to track and assist women who are increasingly becoming vulnerable to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) during the current 21-day national lockdown.

Veritas said it had noticed an increase in GBV since the start of the lockdown as couples were stuck together for long within permanent confinement.

“During this lockdown period, women are at much greater risk of domestic violence than ever before because they are stuck together in permanent confinement with the perpetrators,” said Veritas in its Women’s Rights Watch statement.

“The lockdown in Zimbabwe will last between 30 March and 19 April 2020, and perhaps longer. Living so closely together for an extended period exacerbates tensions between couples which increases the likelihood of domestic violence. The risk is much higher where there is an existing history of abuse.”

The watchdog called on the government to raise GBV awareness within local communities.

“The government should be aware of the problem of increased domestic violence during the lockdown. More facilities should be made available, and more information on the problem and on where help is available should be distributed nationwide through government channels,” Veritas said.

However, the legal watchdog commended the role being played by some non-governmental organisations in helping in the GBV fight, but highlighted that government must take the leading role in protecting the rights of citizens.

“There are no data for Zimbabwe yet but some women’s organisations have set up good initiatives to help women,” said Veritas.

To this end, organisations, like Musasa, Adult Rape Clinic and Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association have opened dedicated hotlines to assist women seeking help for domestic violence and other legal issues that affect women.

Veritas Women said it continued to provide advisory services on its platforms to interact with women who need help or general information.