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Friday, December 05, 2014

Ninety-five per cent of women in Hatcliffe, Zimbabwe have faced gender-based violence - African Journal of Reproductive Health Vol.18 No.1 #WHO

On November 21, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a story on the worldwide need to address violence against females, both young and old.

The African Journal of Reproductive Health, in particular, has several articles addressing physical and sexual abuse against women and girls, as well as issues on child brides and spousal abuse. A recent article in vol.18 no.1 called "Gender Based Violence and its Effects on Women’s Reproductive Health: The Case of Hatcliffe, Harare, Zimbabwe" by Mukanangana et al. explores how violence against women can affect their reproductive health. According to Mukanagana et al. in their article, gender-based violence (GBV) is caused by existing traditional power norms and ways of thinking towards women that can prove to be detrimental to a woman's health. 

WHO says that one in three women globally will experience sexual violence by partners and non-partners in their lifetime. Yet, how will GBV affect women's health? Mukanagana et al. aim to uncover this by conducting a study in Zimbabwe. Women from Hatcliffe in Harare Province in Zimbabwe, between the ages of 15 and 49 were included in the study. This is because of their reproductive age and their vulnerability at this age to GBV. Both qualitative and quantitative research was conducted with group discussions and surveys.

The results indicated that 95 per cent of women in Hatcliffe have faced physical abuse in their lifetime. 66 per cent of abused women were between the ages of 25 and 39 years old. 47 per cent of women who were physically abused were married. Results also indicated that education level was related to the vulnerability of physical abuse. 77 per cent of women who were physically abused had primary education, while 20 per cent of abused women had secondary education, and three per cent of abused women had higher education levels. The study also provides qualitative interviews and statements from participant and "Victim Friendly" officers.

Mukanagana et al. conclude that GBV is prevalent in Hatcliffe, however there is minimal reporting of these cases and victims are silenced due to economic, cultural and religious factors, as well as factors related to current policies. Counselling and education, as well as information provided to both men and women about gender-based violence could help break this culture of silence. The introduction and implementation of policies are needed in order to protect women and their reproductive health from gender-based violence.    

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