Last week the ZGF team went on a learning visiting to Eastern province where our partners Women for Change and Wildaf have been working on a European Union funded project focusing on improving Access to Justice for victims of Gender Based Violence (GBV).
The team visited the Victim Support Units in Katete and Lundazi that have been working closely with Women for Change and Wildaf in the implementation of the project. The officers there talked about a lack of shelters for domestic violence victims has been hampering the fight against GBV.
A shelter serves as a point of emergency crisis accommodation for women and children whose lives are at risk due to domestic violence. It is a space which provides refuge to survivors of domestic violence to protect them from further harm and reduce stigma while they access medical, legal, and psycho-social support services.
“We don’t have domestic violence shelters in this province. Many times when women are beaten, they run to their parents and relatives for safety. However, these relatives send them back to their abusive spouses in attempts of preserving the marriage.
Sadly this perpetuates the cycle of violence as the perpetrator usually responds with more violence as they try to re-exert their authority. This therefore, forces many women to stay in violent relationships because they see no way out as there are no support,” explained an officer at Lundazi police post.
Another officer from Katete police post said, “Apart from not having shelter for GBV victims, transport is also another issue. We are supposed to accompany GBV victims from the police to the hospital for the medicals but at times we let them go alone. Some victims then decide not to return back to the police with their medical results which just leaves some cases unresolved.”
This shortage of services should compel the government to enact policies that prioritise provision of gender based violence services, the most important of which is domestic violence shelters which allow access to justice.