‘Rope in churches in fight against GBV scourge’
Faith-based organisations must be included in Manicaland Province’s fight to eradicate gender-based violence, as there is still a lot of groundwork to be covered in combating the scourge.
This was said by Padare Men’s Forum programmes officer Mr Memory Chindewere during a gender stakeholders meeting held in Rusape last week.
He said a recent survey had indicated that cases of gender-based violence in the province were pervasive.
Religious organisations that command huge and organised followings, he said, had been the missing link and should be actively involved.
“A recent survey conducted by Padare here in Manicaland has revealed that gender-based violence is still prevalent and stakeholders must work together as there is a lot of work to be done on the ground to combat this scourge,” said Mr Chindewere.
“It also came out that victims of gender-based violence are not aware of where to get services and assistance when they encounter violence. It was also revealed that victims are not confident in getting the services and most of them prefer to suffer in silence, a scenario that is regrettable.
“Some of the victims said they prefer to have gender and domestic violence matters resolved by their church pastors and members as opposed to reporting to police. This is the reason why we are roping in the churches to fight GBV.”
Mr Chindewere said they had started with the Zimbabwe Christian Council (ZCC), an umbrella body representing 26 mainline churches in the country. The organisation is also working with bishops and pastors by training them on how to handle gender-based violence issues that would have been brought to their attention.
“Since pastors command a lot of respect in the society, they can be very useful in this discourse,” said Mr Chindewere. “Most people said they prefer their cases to be handled by pastors because they offer conciliatory solutions as opposed to the police and courts where the solution could be punitive.
“Sometimes people require counselling when issues of gender-based violence arose, and most pastors under ZCC are competent counsellors.
“Churches can actually play a role in the provision of safe houses to the victims of GBV to curb further abuse. Churches can also help in mobilisation of resources because all churches have a component of charity in their operations.”
Zimbabwe Council of Churches’ capacity building and gender officer Ms Zvisineyi Valley said her organisation was grateful to be recognised as a key player in fighting gender-based violence and had the capacity to carry out the mandate.
“About 80 percent of the country’s population are Christians and 23 percent are members of the ZCC,” she said. “The church has the people and we should take advantage of that and nip GBV in the bud.
“We will capacitate our pastors to tackle these issues in an effective manner.”
Written By: Lovemore Kadzura Correspondent