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Report Cases of GBV, Provide Healthcare to Victim: Catholic Nurses in Zimbabwe

Credit: The Chronicle

The people of God in Zimbabwe can be part of the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV) by helping victims seek health care services and reporting the cases to the authorities, Catholic nurses in the country’s Bulawayo Archdiocese have said. 

In a Tuesday, October 19 report, the chairperson of the Catholic Nurses’ Guild of the Zimbabwean Archdiocese says GBV is not only a source of major public health problems but also a sin against humanity and God.

The Catholic Church in Zimbabwe is being called upon “to scale up efforts in curbing GBV at all levels and help victims of Gender Based Violence to deal with their situations by reporting their cases to the police and to seek health care services in cases of physical violence,” Addis Hlomani has been quoted as saying in the report. 

In the report published by Catholic Church News Zimbabwe, Mrs. Hlomani further urges the people of God in the Southern African nation to facilitate “professional counselling and psycho-social support for families and children who may need it so as to reduce challenges of GBV.”

She emphasizes the need to establish safe houses at Parishes where victims of GBV can find shelter while their cases are being investigated adding that “these and other support systems will help survivors of GBV to pick up their mats and to move on.”

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The representative of Catholic Nurses in Bulawayo Archdiocese said who was speaking at a virtual conference on October 14 went on to highlight the negative impact the vice of GBV has on members of society. 

GBV, she said, “has a tremendous economic cost for the community, including the direct costs of health, social and legal services and the indirect costs of loss of resources.”

Violence makes women “socially and economically vulnerable” as they are hindered from participating in community development programs, the chairperson of the Catholic Nurses’ Guild of the Archdiocese of Bulawayo said. 

She explained, “Physically incapacitated or traumatized women may not be able to return to work, resulting in loss of livelihood for the family.”

Children who witness violence in families “demonstrate high rates of emotional health problems” and are likely to be violent towards other people later on in life, Mrs. Hlomani observed.

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GBV, especially that which is perpetrated against women, is rooted in cultural and traditional practices calls for the unlearning of some gender norms, she further observed. 

“GBV is particularly rooted in the idea of male power over women and is usually perpetrated by men of low self-esteem or who are afraid that they are perceived as unmasculine,” Mrs. Hlomani has been quoted as saying during the October 14 session.

Since gender norms are learned and not inborn, Mrs. Hlomani remarked, there is need to change the behaviors instead of viewing them “as culture or tradition, as something unchangeable and part of any culture.” 

Traditional gender norm which suggests that “women should be subject to men, passive participants and mere submissive subjects should be challenged in the strongest terms,” the Catholic nurse noted, adding that the belief that men should be controlling and aggressive also needs to be challenged. 

According to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), one in three women aged 15 to 49 in Zimbabwe have experienced physical violence and about one in four Zimbabwean women have experienced sexual violence from the age of 15 years.

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Last month, Zimbabwe’s Diocese of Masvingo started an initiative to empower women through self-help initiatives in view of ending GBV in that part of the country. 

In an initiative dubbed SASA (Start, Awareness, Support and Action) Faith that is under the auspices of the humanitarian and developmental arm of the Zimbabwean Diocese, Caritas Masvingo, women are empowered economically through investments and life skills.

“The thrust of the Diocese is to bring an end to the scourge of GBV in families and communities through SASA Faith in Action, a project whose aim is to encourage peace and tranquility,” officials of Caritas Masvingo said  in the September 15 report.

Caritas Masvingo is implementing the SASA Faith Initiative in partnership with the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe (RCZ), Full Gospel Church, and Zion Christian Church (ZCC).

 

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