Project assists 4 000 survivors of GBV

WOMEN who survive Gender-Based Violence (GBV), including sexual violence, in marginalised communities, often find themselves without recourse.

In most cases, the perpetrators of GBV are relatives of, or individuals known to the women. According to the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey conducted in 2012, almost half of all women experience GBV in their lives; mostly perpetrated by their own partners. 

Spousal violence or intimate partner violence is the leading form of GBV in Zimbabwe, and is grounded in cultural practices with dimensions of gender inequality. In response to this situation, Danida in partnership with UN Women, Justice for Children Trust, Women and Law in Southern Africa and Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association intervened with a project called “Ensuring the Rights of Adolescent Girls and Women Survivors of GBV”.

The project aims to scale up access to legal aid, which is one of the critical gender-and child sensitive services for a sufficient and efficient response to GBV. It was designed in line with the 2012 Protocol on the Multi-sectoral Management of Sexual Abuse and Violence in Zimbabwe, and it is being implemented in Bindura, Makoni and Beitbridge.  These districts were selected due to their high GBV prevalence rates.

Commenting on the project recently, the acting head of mission at the Royal Danish Embassy Office, Chargé d’ Affaires Signe Winding Albjerg said: “Legal aid for citizens that require assistance is important in enabling access to justice.

“This project made it possible for a large number of women and girls in marginalised communities to access justice. This is an important milestone for the survivor’s rehabilitation.”

From its launch in 2014 to date, the project has assisted over 4 000 survivors of GBV in the three districts to receive free legal services and assistance including legal advice to clients. 

“The services include drafting of court papers, lodging of complaints at Magistrates’ courts and representing clients in maintenance, domestic violence and sexual violence cases.

In a recent interview, UN Women Gender Specialist Michelle Gudo said: “The project’s goal is to mitigate the effects of Gender-Based Violence on adolescent girls, women and their children by improving access to comprehensive survivor sensitive services and facilitating the swift handling of sexual abuse and violence matters to ensure justice delivery for survivors.”

The legal aid intervention is part of a larger access to justice programme supported by Denmark. Other interventions supported by the programme include the provision of medical services, shelter and psycho-social support to survivors of Gender-Based Violence.

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