Traditional and community leaders have been urged to play a pivotal role in curbing Gender-Based Violence (GBV) by implementing effective prevention measures.

This call to action was made by Public Service Commission Human Resources Manager, Omina Ndlovu, during a recent address to the Nyele community in Bulilima District.

Ndlovu, who served as the guest of honour at the launch of the 16 Days of Activism against GBV in Bulilima district, Matabeleland South, emphasised the need for a concerted effort from various stakeholders to protect women and girls.

“It is deeply concerning that one in every three women experiences abuse,” Ndlovu stated. “These alarming statistics demand a collective response to combat GBV. Such cases often stem from cultural practices, economic hardships, or religious beliefs. Implementing comprehensive GBV prevention measures is crucial to address this issue.”

Ndlovu highlighted the importance of safeguarding against early child marriages and teenage pregnancies. “In the past, seeing a teenage girl carrying a baby was not a cause for concern,” she explained. “It was assumed to be their sibling or relative. However, today, the situation is different. We raise numerous questions, wondering if the child is theirs, if they know the father, or if they have been abused by a relative.”

She further addressed the prevalence of parents, guardians, and elders protecting perpetrators within families. “They conceal the identity of the father, despite knowing it’s a family member,” Ndlovu noted. “They keep the child at home and avoid clinic visits for pregnancy check-ups, fearing questions that could lead to the perpetrator’s arrest. By the time they seek medical attention, it may be too late, resulting in the teenager’s death or severe complications.”

Matabeleland South Provincial Police Spokesperson, Inspector Loveness Mangena, also emphasised the importance of utilising police services to report GBV cases. “We have the Victim Friendly Unit specifically designed to handle such cases,” Mangena explained. “Community members must not hesitate to approach us and report instances of violence. They will receive the necessary assistance from the VFU.”

Mangena urged individuals to foster peaceful home environments. “When problems arise, seek counselling,” she advised. “A wife should never be subjected to physical abuse at home. Similarly, children should not be subjected to beatings. If a parent must discipline a child, it should be done appropriately, without causing physical harm that could lead to abuse. We must strive for peace and harmony in our homes.”