from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE – CHRISTIAN church leaders in Zimbabwe have launched a historic campaign against violence towards women and girls.
The leaders have launched the campaign under the theme, ‘Speak Out!’, with a call on all faith communities to break the silence that surrounds the epidemic of violence.
The campaign was launched in the capital Harare on Thursday as a precursor to the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, commemorated between November 25 and December 10.
Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, Zimbabwe Council of Churches and Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe: Africa, have collectively come together to break this silence and to encourage women and men of all faith communities to act.
The campaign will roll out round table discussions, dialogues and measures that safeguard the dignity of all, in particular women and girls.
This initiative is also going to be incorporated into the participating churches faith calendars.
It will provide training and support for leaders to handle cases of sexual and gender-based violence as they arise.
According to the latest Zimbabwe Health Demographic Survey, more than one in 3 (35 percent) of married women aged 15-49 experience violence committed by their husband or partner.
A similar percentage of females is married off before turning 18, often to older men.
The underlying causes are many ranging from poverty to patriarchy.
Many women and girls live in fear of violence or are experiencing violence and often remain silent and do not report the abuse they are facing or do not speak to anyone or seek help.
– CAJ News