GBV threats continue to intensify in scale and scope while the population is exposed to degenerating food insecurity, compounded by economic hardship and the COVID-19 movement restriction measures.
The national GBV Hotline (Musasa) has recorded a total of 2,519 GBV calls from the beginning of the lockdown on 30 March until 13 June (1,312 in April, 915 in May 2020 and 292 from 1 June to 13 June), with an overall increase of over 70 per cent compared to the pre-lockdown trends. About 94 per cent of the cases are women. The most dominant forms are physical violence (38 per cent of total cases) and psychological violence (38 per cent), followed by economic violence (19 per cent) and sexual violence (5 per cent). About 90 per cent of cases are IPV cases.
Increased concerns of exposure to gender-based violence (GBV) continue to be recorded at points of entry, as a result of the increasing aﬄux of returnees and unavailability of protection sensitive quarantine facilities to host them. Furthermore, as a result of increased “border jumping” and smuggling in persons, exacerbation of exposure to Sexual exploitation and abuse is expected on the increase. Priority needs include availing NFIs that ensure dignity of the most vulnerable, psychosocial support as well as disseminate critical information on available GBV multi-sectoral services. The needs for sensitization of quarantine centres personnel on the establishment of complaints mechanisms, psychologic ﬁrst aid and GBV referral pathways remains critical. Despite consistent engagement of the GBV SC for the inclusion of GBV components in the SOPs for quarantine facilities, these seem to have not been reflected in the approved version.
Despite GBV services being recognized as essential services, movement restrictions are still faced for both GBV personnel and survivors in some districts. The strict enforcement of lockdown movement rules in Harare Central Business District and other main cities resulted in increased presence of armed forces at roadblocks. Extensive patrolling of public open spaces, such as produce markets and bus stops also generated an increased risk of tensions, stigma and harassment. There is a persistent need to enhance sensitization of security forces, in order to ensure freedom of mobility of both GBV service providers and GBV survivors.
Access to GBV services remains a constraint due to the reduced availability of public transport means during lockdown. The few operating ZUPCO buses do not suffice to meet the demand, while the commuter omnibuses, usually more affordable and with a wider range of geographical reach, remain unavailable. An increase of tensions at bus stops has been observed as a result of the physical distancing onboard, which generates a reduced capacity to carry passengers, and prolonged waiting times.
The obligation for all citizens to wear masks in public spaces continues to result in further constraints for those who do not have access to supplies and exposes vulnerable women and girls to increased risks of harassment.
In most impoverished areas, de-prioritization of GBV services is increasingly recorded as a consequence of the protracted lockdown, as access to daily income sources for household sustenance remains constrained, while the resort to transactional sex is a further increased risk.
Since 1 January 2020, the GBV sub-cluster partners have assisted 456,491 individuals (18,808 male, 27,683 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, 7,155 women and girls were reached with community-based PSS interventions, including at W/G safe spaces, and 4,531 GBV survivors (3,758 female, 773 male) were assisted with multisectoral GBV services, through static and mobile one-stop centres (OSC), shelters and health clinics.
GBV Sub-Cluster partners with Support from UNFPA continue to work closely with the Ministry of Women affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, to address GBV staff clearance and to ensure freedom of mobility for GBV survivors seeking support during the lockdown.
The mobile service provision model continued to enhance service uptake in areas where public transport remains unavailable. GBV Sub-cluster partners have also strengthened coordination with Food Security and WASH clusters partners, for the setup of mobile OSCs and safe spaces near food distribution points and community boreholes. 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.
The capacity of hotlines for remote psychosocial support (PSS) and specialized GBV survivors’ assistance continues to be scaled up, including through the increase of dedicated lines for different vulnerable groups, such as LGBTIs, as well as lines for remote MHPSS for GBV personnel.
GBV sub-cluster partners continue to explore alternative modalities to cater for the continuous basic PPE needs of most vulnerable women and girls. These include the self- manufacturing of cloth masks and soap at GBV community- based shelters, safe spaces and youth centres, colleges and universities.
Digital messages on GBV during COVID-19 continue to be disseminated through social media and radio, with a particular focus on domestic violence, PSEA, the GBV referral pathway, SGBV reporting within 72h in order to access Post Exposure Proﬁlaxis (PEP).
The GBV Sub-cluster, under the overall technical guidance of UNFPA, collaborated with IOM and the Points of Entry pillar for the integration of GBV risk mitigation and response, and PSEA into the training modules for the Quarantine facilities staff Training of trainers, scheduled for 18 and 19 June. The focus of the contributions include sensitization on GBV risk reduction in QFs set up and maintenance phases, role of non-specialized actors and tools to interface with GBV specialists, the survivor-centred approach, psychologic first aid (PFA) and GBV referral pathways. Advocacy through the national and UN PoE pillar leads continued to ensure GBV risk mitigation and referrals are reflected into the approved SOPs.
Through the assistance of the GENCAP advisor, support to the Food Security Cluster was provided on the application of the Gender and Age (GAM) markers for enhanced gender sensitive programme monitoring.
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.