WOMEN’S RIGHTS WATCH 2020

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DURING THE LOCKDOWN

 

6 April 2020

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 their perpetrators.  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.

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Countries throughout the world are recording spikes in the incidence of domestic violence.  In France domestic violence has risen by 36% – and two cases of femicide were reported since the beginning of the lockdown.  The French government will be paying for safety shelters in places such as hotels. Temporary counseling centers are being set up inside shops to make it convenient for women to access them when they go out to buy essential supplies.  In the United Kingdom the National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a 25% increase in calls and online requests for help since the lockdown.  A special emergency number has been provided during the lockdown and police have been trained to look out for domestic violence distress calls.  More places of refuge are being set up and reports to the police can result in the abuser being removed from the home.  In Australia there has been a 75% rise in Google searches relating to help for domestic violence since the start of the lockdown.  The Australian government has provided a US$142 million fund to tackle domestic violence.

 

Zimbabwe Initiatives

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

Veritas Women continues to provide advisory services on its platforms to interact with women who need help or general information.  Veritas Women is available on SMS and WhatsApp 0774261114, Twitter @veritaszimwomen and on Facebook VeritasWomen.  Veritas Women platforms are open during the lockdown and will continue to distribute essential information and guidance on domestic violence and other legal issues which affect women.

Musasa, Adult Rape Clinic [ARC] and ZWLA have opened dedicated hotlines to assist women seeking help for domestic violence during the lockdown.  The hotline assistance initiative by Musasa, ARC and ZWLA is all the more welcome because victims can access medical or legal services. Safe houses and shelter can be arranged for those in need.  Roots offers a place of refuge  [Contact details see below]

Police stations continue to be open during the lockdown and victims are encouraged to report incidences of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Includes Being Thrown Out of the Home

The Domestic Violence Act Chapter 5:16 provides for protection from domestic violence and relief for victims.  Domestic violence is defined as meaning any unlawful act, omission or behaviour which results in death or the direct infliction of physical, sexual or mental injury.  Acts of domestic violence include physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional, verbal and psychological abuse, economic abuse, intimidation, harassment, stalking, malicious damage to property, and forcible entry into the victim’s residence where the parties do not share the same residence. It also includes depriving someone or hindering them from accessing or having a reasonable share of the use of the facilities associated with the victim’s place of residence.  It is common for one partner to drive the other partner away from the house and lock them out or impose restrictions to their access to household facilities.  If a woman is thrown out during the lockdown period she is even more stranded, so practical measures to stop this are needed now more than ever before.

Need for Government to Do More

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 nation-wide through government channels.  NGO’s play their part but basically the Government is responsible for the welfare of its people and we call upon Government Ministries to see that more is done to protect those who are exposed to domestic violence during this period of lockdown.. 

 

ARE YOU IN NEED OF
SHELTER?
If you or anyone you know is being abused during this #lockdownzim
period we have a place for you at ROOTS. Gender Based Violence is an
everyday reality and also in times of crisis such as #Covid-19

Contact Us

Nyasha 0775900840 Tilda 0714980568 Junior 0772263146 Sandra 0782250410

Helping women and children affected by domestic violence