Risks of gender-based violence continue to intensify in scale and scope while the population is exposed to degenerating food insecurity, compounded by economic hardship and socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The national GBV Hotline (Musasa) has recorded a total of 5,306 GBV calls from the beginning of the lockdown on 30 March until 7 October (1,312 in April, 915 in May 2020, 776 in June, 753 in July, 766 in August , 629 in September, 155 from 1 October to 7 October), with an overall average increase of over 60 per cent compared to the pre-lockdown trends. About 94 per cent of the calls are from women. In the last three months, an increase in psychological violence was recorded (55 per cent of total cases) as compared with previous months. Other dominant forms remain physical violence (22 per cent of total cases) followed by economic violence (15 per cent) and sexual violence (8 per cent). About 90 per cent of cases are intimate partner violence.
Reduced public transport availability remains a challenge in urban, peri-urban, and rural areas for survivors of GBV to access timely multisectoral services. In most impoverished areas, de-prioritization of GBV services is increasingly recorded, as access to daily income sources for household sustenance remains constrained, despite the recent easing of lockdown measures lockdown.
Service providers have reported an increase on the number of GBV cases against adolescent girls, as well as exposure to increased negative copying mechanisms, such as child marriage, as one of the indirect consequences of the economic hardship and household income reduction. Increase in teenage pregnancies is also often identiﬁed among the consequences.
The health sector crisis continues to impact on accessibility of clinical management of rape services. While mobile OSCs teams continue to receive constant support by dedicated nurses, the strike of health personnel in static facilities indirectly generates reduced capacity to assist rape victims with life-saving treatment. Furthermore, some partners report that Health services are turning down patients due to increased fears of local COVID-19 transmission, with serious consequences on timely access to lifesaving health treatments, including chronic illness, maternal health, and post rape.
As a result of the compounded challenges (transport, reduced health personnel at static Health facilities) mobile service providers are recording an increased demand, which they are counterbalancing through doubling the capacity of multisectoral staff on the ground, in order to ensure continuation of services for a larger number of survivors in hotspots.
Since 1 January 2020, the GBV sub-cluster partners have assisted 129,220 individuals (51,342 male, 77,878 female) with community-based GBViE risk mitigation and PSEA outreach, integrated in various community-based mechanisms and with the support of a workforce of 225 community volunteers, including behaviour change facilitators. In addition, 9,479 women and girls were reached with community-based PSS interventions, including at W/G safe spaces, and 11,481 GBV survivors (9,261female, 2,220 male) were assisted with multisectoral GBV services, through mobile one-stop centres (OSC).
The mobile service provision model continued to enhance service uptake in areas where public transport remains unavailable. GBV Sub-cluster partners continue to coordinate their efforts with the Food Security and WASH clusters partners, for the setup of mobile OSCs and safe spaces near food distribution points and community boreholes. The Mobile OSCs teams have strengthened their interaction with Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the Victim Friendly Units (VFU) to ensure timely referrals of GBV survivors at points of entry and in areas nearby quarantine facilities.
GBV community surveillance and mobile service providers have also strengthened their presence at food distribution points, mining areas, water points, permitted community gatherings, contributing to increased availability of safety nets, complaints mechanisms and timely referrals to GBV services in critical hotspots.
Alternative transport fees support to survivors, including those with disabilities and their caregivers, also continues to facilitate access to services.
Access to data bundles and airtime for community facilitators engaged in GBV surveillance continued to be supported to ensure direct interaction with hotlines operators and continuous timely referrals.
Digital messages on GBV during COVID-19 continue to be disseminated through social media and radio (the Let’s talk GBV radio programme is airing every Saturday at 11 a.m. live on Capital FM and social media platforms), with a particular focus on domestic violence, PSEA, the GBV referral pathway, SGBV reporting within 72 hours in order to access Post Exposure Proﬁlaxis (PEP). On 28 August, as part of the World Humanitarian Day commemorations, the “Let’s talk GBV” Radio programme was dedicated to the male engagement for GBV risk mitigation.
The full re-operationalization of GBV facilities continues to face challenges related availability of basic PPE and delayed delivery of COVID-19 IPC supplies.
Underfunding remains a critical barrier to the achievement of GBV SC targets, with only 7 per cent of the HRP requirements funded, while the COVID-19 interventions are currently ongoing only through re-programming of other existing funding, and with less than 5 per cent of requirements met.