The Emthonjeni Women’s Forum (EWF), a Bulawayo-based women’s rights group, has raised alarm over an alleged rise in cases of gender-based violence (GBV) since the beginning of the now extended national lockdown early this month.
EWF Programmes Manager, Mellisa Ndlovu said her organisation had been attending to more GBV cases during the current epoch of the national lockdown than in the previous months. One of the GBV cases which the women’s rights group has been dealing with involves last week’s fatal axing of a city man by his wife following a mother-daughter dispute over TV channels.
In the past three weeks alone, the group has recorded more than 30 GBV cases.
Ndlovu said it was unfortunate that the lockdown period ‘confines the victim and the perpetrator in the same place, (thereby) placing the victim at high risk’.
She also added that due to the fact that the economy is characterized by the predominantly informal sector, most livelihoods have been adversely affected by the lockdown, leading to increased frustrations towards fending for the families.
This, Ndlovu said, are some of the factors that have contributed to the alleged spike in GBV cases.
Despite the EWF’s claims of a surge in domestic violence cases, Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said there has been no difference in GBV cases, before and during the lockdown period.
“We have had nothing amiss with regard to GBV cases in the past weeks,” Ncube said.
“I would want to believe people are able to cohabit or stay with their partners,” he added.
On Sunday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa predictably extended the 21-day national lockdown by a further fourteen days until May 3.