Women with disabilities call for more support to fight GBV
By Providence Moyo
As the 16 days of activism against Gender- Based Violence (GBV) continue, a sector of Bulawayo’s community that include disabled women in Bulawayo express their concerns over shortages of supportive infrastructure in the country citing that it makes some of them endure GBV silently.
Disabled women who spoke to this publication said the country is still lagging behind in the fight of GBV because the current structures are not supportive of disabled women.
Sources who spoke to this publication said they find it difficult to access pertinent services that were put forward by both government and Non-Profit Organisations (NGOs) in a bid to fight GBV like Victim Friendly Unity (VFU) and empowerment programs respectively citing lack of adequate experience from security forces to deliver in line of social work and purposive exclusion of women with disability.
In an interview with this publication, one woman with a disability, Paidamoyo Dandadzi of Cowdry Park said there is need to up the game of GBV fight in relation to the disabled.
“In order for us to report cases we need to go to police stations but it is difficult to access the stations because structures that support us are not there, I use a wheelchair and most of our police stations have stoops and steps so I need someone who will assist me and that on its own compromises my privacy because at times we live with the perpetrators hence how do I ask them to accompany me to the police. At times there is need for an interpreter but they are not there at police stations and when you get there it becomes a whole lot of process when the police try to either interpreter or look for one”.
Dandadzi said this is a heavy blow to the visually impaired as they need interpreters who will intercede for smooth communication between the police and the complainant hence because of this, some women end up not reporting their cases but as people with disabilities they suffer violence everyday of their life.
Another disabled woman Nonhlanhla Sibanda of Pumula North weighed in by calling for them to be served with speed if they are reporting delicate issues like GBV because delays in serving them has an effect on narrating occurrence of events.
“For us to obtain justice there is need for the police to scale up the pace at which they serve people with disabilities especially in violence related cases because occurrence of events is very pertinent in assisting the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) with investigations but some people with disabilities have short memory span hence they might forget events which are crucial if they are not served with speed”.
Meanwhile, women with disability are calling for a fair share in the fight against GBV citing that for GBV eradication efforts to be productive and meaningful, there is need for an inclusive approach which does not side-line other members of the community but see them as a part of means to a GBV free environment.
Matebeleland Coalition for the Welfare of the Child (MCWC) said the current efforts of fighting GBV are imbalanced as most empowerment programmes target women and the girl child but exclusionary towards men and boys.
“There is need for balance in these programmes because women and girls do not live in vacuum but they live with men so everyone must be capacitated to deal with this critical subject and the fact that men and boys also have financial pressures that tend to disturb mental health makes them eligible to empowerment on how to handle pressures that they face daily,” he said.
Furthermore, Lancelot Ncube of New Magwegwe concurred with Mpofu arguing that it a sore sight that the efforts are exclusionary “because everyone is susceptible to GBV and some men and boys are part of the victims and because of lack of support they end being silent and unknown victims but that does not take away the fact that they are victims”.
Another man by the name Wonder Dube said exclusion of men from empowerment programs is creating divisions in societies perpetuating “them “against “us” and “us” against “them”.
“GBV issues will escalate as long as men are excluded and the exclusion creates divisions between the two genders as men are left vulnerable without any empowerment on the issue, men inclusion will also be an advantage to women because capacitated men will not partake on GBV perpetration if they receive adequate empowerment because we need to live in solidarity with one another regardless of gender, race and sexuality as humanity shines above all classifications”, he said.
This year’s activism against GBV is running under the theme “Unite, Activism to end violence against women and girls”, it is celebrated annually every 25 November to 10 December with 16 days dedicated towards ending GBV throughout the globe.