BY NHAU MANGIRAZI
A-HURUNGWE-based non-governmental organisation, Dare Guru, which is part of the Apostolic Women Empowerment Trust (AWET) has roped in men and boys in the fight against gender based violence (GBV) using cultural and Christian values.
AWET is part of the Spotlight Initiative, and works with UNICEF to fight for the rights of the girl child in the country’s 10 provinces.
Sharon Chiriga, the AWET focal person in Mashonaland West said they were working with Dare Guru, which comprises of 25 men drawn from different religious groups like traditionalists, Apostolic sects, Christians and Muslims.
‘‘The Dare concept involves building of a traditional dare (court) where males sit and discuss different issues about life as per the Korekore (Shona group) culture. The Dare Guru also discusses GBV issues,’’ Chiringa said.
She said 135 behaviour change facilitators have already been trained in Hurungwe district, and will cover 26 rural wards.
‘‘As part of our grassroot approach, AWET has reached out to faith leaders that have shown commitment to taking action against violence on women and girls. We have seen remarkable change through grassroots reporting systems by our officers on behaviour change. If there are victims that need care and support, including safety and shelter, we facilitate that to limit further assaults and murder cases as a result of GBV.”
Chiringa said early child marriages were rampant in rural areas, including cultural practices such as kugara nhaka (inheriting a wife).
She said relatives of rape victims were also unwilling to testify, which might result in close family members getting arrested.
Mashonaland West senator, chief Chundu (AbeI Mbasera) said engaging in conversations on GBV will bring long term solutions to communities and assist men and boys to respect women and girls.
‘‘Traditionally, men have a role to play to solve problems, and the Dare Guru helps young boys to respect girls, considering them as their sisters, which then limits the chances of GBV happening in our communities. Christians and traditionalists must work together to achieve the same goal,” chief Chundu said.
Hurungwe district has the highest cases of early marriages in Mashonaland West province.
Statistics by Zimbabwe Gender Commission show that Mashonaland Central tops the list of child marriages with 49.5% girls and 7.6% boys married off at a young age, followed by Mashonaland West with 41.7% girls and 5, 6% boys.
Mashonaland East came third with 37,8% girls and 3,9 % boys, followed by Masvingo (35,3%) Manicaland (36%), Matabeleland North on sixth position with 32%, Midlands (30,4%), while Matebeleland South recorded 22,2%, Harare province 21,7%, and Bulawayo was the least with 13,5% girls married off at a tender age.