You are here

Twelve year old Fiona (not her real name) from Shamva was raped by a friend’s brother while visiting her friend’s home. One day when she was coming home from school, she bumped into her old friend from the neighbourhood who invited her over to their home. While at the homestead her friend left Fiona in the company of her brother while she went to fetch water.  This was when the rape took place. After the abuse Fiona managed to escape.

“I ran towards the road and came across a teacher from my school who then assisted me to get help at the nearest police station,” says Fiona. 

The police communicated with UNFPA’s partner Musasa and the Department of Social Welfare who accompanied the minor to access medical treatment following the rape. She received Post Exposure Prophylaxis to prevent her from contracting HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases and emergency contraceptives to prevent her from getting pregnant.  Police are still investigating the case since the perpetrator ran away. Fiona is being supported with counselling and follow-up visits to help her recover from the abuse. 

“They follow up on my well-being and encourage me not to let my experience deter me from returning back to school and continue building my future,” says Fiona.

In rural Mutoko at the age of 14, Ruvimbo was married off by her parents to an older man.

“We were struggling to eat and make ends meet. At that time a 35-year-old man approached my parents and persuaded them to make me his wife. He paid the bride price and I relocated with him to Madziwa Mine in Shamva in April 2022,” says Ruvimbo.

Some villagers of Shamva became aware of Ruvimbo’s situation and alerted the police of the minor’s issue. When realising that he had been reported, her husband fled, leaving her with no money or food to survive. A Behaviour Change Facilitator in her community then took Fiona to the police who linked her up to the Department of Social Welfare and then UNFPA’s partner Musasa for continued support. Ruvimbo stayed at the Mazowe shelter where conversations and processes were underway to reintegrate her with her family. Ruvimbo is back home with her parents and recovering from the abuse. 

In Mbire, 38 year old Tanaka is moving on from abuse at the hands of her husband. Tanaka realised that despite her husband owning a shop providing income for the family, her husband was neglecting upkeep of their seven children. 

“I was taking care of the children by myself. Things got tough to the extent that my third born child dropped out of school so he could assist me in the fields,” says Tanaka.

After some investigations she discovered that her husband was having an affair with their neighbour which could be the reason for the economic neglect. When she confronted them, they beat her with open fists, stones and sticks. When some of her neighbours rescued her from the situation, her husband followed her back home and continued assaulting her until she fainted. Supportive neighbours took her to Chitsungo hospital for treatment, but because she had no money for medical bills the hospital refused to attend to her. After being referred to Musasa she was able to access medical treatment. 

“They provided me with counselling and assisted me to report the matter to the police. The police accompanied me home, I managed to take my belongings, and I am now staying with my mother,” says Tanaka. “I am grateful for the support, even my state of mind has improved because I was always stressed. Now I can work and take care of my children whilst I am away from my abusive husband.” Tanaka has been provided with further support to apply for maintenance at the courts and the judicial process is still ongoing.

The stories of Fiona, Tanaka and Ruvimbo mirror a huge problem in Zimbabwe. That of Gender Based Violence (GBV) where at least 1 in 3 women and girls experience one form of abuse or another during their lifetime. But in this darkness many women and girls like Fiona, Ruvimbo and Tanaka are slowly rebuilding their lives as survivors of GBV thanks to the support being provided by the Government of Japan under the Strengthening Integrated SRH/GBV Risk Mitigation and Response in Multi-hazard Crisis project

UNFPA together with partners such as Musasa is ensuring survivors of GBV even in the most remote areas of Zimbabwe like Mbire have access to life saving services and information. 

Under the project the Government of Japan support is helping to strengthen Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) mitigation and response services for vulnerable women and girls in the districts of Mbire and Shamva in Mashonaland Central Province.

Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a multi-hazard humanitarian crisis where a protracted climate change crisis has been further exacerbated by economic instability and the COVID-19 pandemic, among many other factors. The multi-hazard nature of this crisis poses increased risks of exposure to GBV as well as reduced access to GBV and SRH life-saving essential services.  

To strengthen the capacity of the most vulnerable women and girls to mitigate their risk of exposure to GBV in hazardous environments, community awareness activities are done through Behaviour Change Facilitators (BCFs). In addition, to increase access to GBV and SRH life-saving essential services, BCFs provide essential referrals for GBV survivors. Survivors can access services through mobile One-Stop Centres that provide treatment through specialised nurses, counselling and legal assistance.

By Bertha Shoko with additional reporting from Musasa