Zimbabwe. Harare: The fight against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is one of the global calls as women have become victims of it in the form of sexual harassment, female genital mutilation, physical and emotional abuse, and violence.
In most African countries GBV is a norm whereby many people especially the senior members of the society believe that women are subjected to all forms of abuse by men.
Meaning whatever decision made women have to abide by it.
Men engaged in the fight
However, a group of young men Fathers Against Abuse (FAA) is working on engaging men to challenge gender-based violence against women.
FAA Co-founder Alois Nyamazana told Transcontinental Times that the organization is motivated by the need to see a healthy nation where men, women, boys, and girls live a life that enables them to realize their potential without being hindered by GBV.
“We engage men as catalysts for change and as partners with women and girls in securing a Zimbabwe that is free from GBV”.
Gender-based violence or violence against women and girls (VAWG), is a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime, according to the World Bank.
This issue is not only devastating for survivors of violence and their families but also entails significant social and economic costs. In some countries, violence against women is estimated to cost countries up to 3.7% of their GDP – more than double what most governments spend on education, the World Bank says.
Prevalence of gender-based violence issues is mainly found in rural areas where culture is substantially observed.
In order to overcome such scenarios, FAA is implementing interventions that include awareness campaigns and conducting research to come up with evidence-based interventions to address gender-based violence.
“We also implement the establishment of male-friendly counseling centers where men can also freely and openly seek help when they are facing challenges in their relationships”.
” We believe that if men openly seek help on how to deal with conflicts then they will not engage in violent behaviors as they deal with women”, said Nyamazana.
Some religious doctrines restrict the rights of women and they are forced to adhere to failure to do so they will be put under punishment.
For instance, when a young girl of Johanne Marange Apostolic Sect founded unvirginal, she is forced to get married without her consent.
According to UNFPA, “victims of violence can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, traumatic fistula, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death”.
Indeed, in such sects, women have been deprived of their sexual reproductive health rights as they are not allowed to take any contraceptives.
“We regard the church as a very important agent of positive social change in Zimbabwe as 90% of the people are Christians hence we partner with church leaders in order strengthen gender-based violence case management systems for churches”.
“Some very religious people also regard this issue fighting GBV as a sin hence they may also resist the initiative but over and above all, the support is very encouraging”, said Nyamazana.
Response to the campaign
Due to Covid-19 FAA has been running its campaign through social media.
He said the programme has been successful and the response by men indicated that men are willing for social change.
“Men are approaching us to inquire how they can also be anti-GBV champions in their communities”. “We noted that there are still good men in societies who are keen on fighting gender-based violence but they have not been given opportunities to learn and openly denounce GBV’, he said.