US$2m targeted for anti-rape programmes

via US$2m targeted for anti-rape programmes – The Sunday Mail 13 July 2014 by Pamela Nyabadza

Government is on a drive to raise US$2 million for major anti-rape and sexual violence programmes, which include setting up special courts and training chiefs to deal with such crimes.

A portion of the funds being mobilised under the National Action Plan to End Rape and Sexual Violence will be used to build safe houses where survivors and victims will receive expert support.

The action plan, launched by Vice-President Mujuru in June and released to The Sunday Mail last week, focuses on prevention, service provision, co-ordination as well as research, documentation, monitoring and evaluation.

Authorities are planning to build at least one safe house in each of the country’s 59 districts; give survivors free legal services; and establish special courts and operationalise 24-hour victim friendly units at police stations to facilitate prompt reporting, treatment and counselling.

The prevention strategies home in on addressing cultural and religious practices fuelling rape; involving men in prevention programmes; and spreading knowledge about gender rights and the law. In addition, a Gender and Culture Manual and school-based programmes will be introduced.

Churches, traditional leaders, police and civil society organisations are among stakeholders supporting the plan. An official in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development told this paper that Government hoped to raise the US$2 million with help from the United Nations Children’s Fund, UN population agency, Musasa Project, Padare Men’s Forum, Women and Law in Southern Africa and other groups.

“Chiefs will also be educated on how to deal with rape and sexual violence; this will ensure rural folk do not travel long distances to seek justice,” said the official.

The National Action Plan to End Rape and Sexual Violence was introduced after recommendations by an inter-ministerial committee set up early this year to tackle the vices. Police statistics show 3 571 women and 7 411 girls were raped from 2012 to the first quarter of 2014. It is believed that the majority of abuse cases are not reported.

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