Tinomuda Chakanyuka Sunday News Reporter
BULAWAYO province recorded the least number of domestic violence cases during the first three quarters of last year, compared to other provinces while Harare metropolitan province topped the list with the highest number of cases, information from the National Aids Council (NAC) gender and workplace office shows. Out of a national total of 7 310 domestic violence cases recorded between January and September last year, Bulawayo recorded 356 cases and Harare recorded 1 431 cases.
Gender and Workplace HIV & Aids Programmes national co-ordinator at National Aids Council Ms Vimbai Mdege told Sunday News last week that data for the last quarter of 2014 was still being compiled and would only be available at the end of the month.
However, according to the available statistics, Mashonaland East province ranked second from Harare with 1 273 cases, followed by Manicaland province which recorded 993.
Mashonaland Central province recorded 850 cases to rank fourth while Matabeleland North province had 734 cases followed by Midlands province which recorded 686.
Masvingo province had the seventh highest number of cases, 485, followed by Matabeleland South province which recorded 410 and Mashonaland West province which had 370.
Statistics from the first three quarters of 2014 indicate that more women, 6 158, fell victim to domestic violence compared to 1 152 men.
The data also shows that there has been a decrease in the number of cases recorded in the first nine months of 2014 compared to the same period in the previous year where over 9 000 cases were recorded.
Ms Mdege said the huge disparities in the number of cases recorded in each province were a result of a number of cases, among them population sizes, socio economic set-up of communities and level of awareness.
She said despite a decreasing trend in the number of cases recorded in 2014 compared to previous years, the figure remained unacceptably high and more work needed to be done to curb domestic violence.
“There are a number of factors why some areas might record more cases than others. For example Harare province has a bigger population compared to other areas and that may explain why cases seem higher there.
“Some areas recorded fewer cases than others and that may mean that people in such areas might have embraced the advice against domestic violence. It may however mean that the victims are not empowered enough and don’t report cases. Factors vary and often overlap.
“We might celebrate observing the decrease in the number of cases, but I feel the numbers are still way too high. There is a need to step up efforts to eradicate domestic strife,” she said.
Ms Mdege pointed out economic dependence and infidelity issues as ranking high among factors leading to high prevalence of domestic violence in the country.
She called for stiffer penalties to perpetrators as a way of deterring would-be offenders from committing the same offence.
“There are a number of causes to domestic violence, chiefly financial issues where most women are economically dependent on men. That makes them vulnerable to abuse. We have also observed that a high number of cases reported involve infidelity issues where one partner suspects their counterpart to be having an affair and bashes them for that.
“Like we have always said we need to increase our efforts towards eradicating domestic violence. We need to have buy-in from all stakeholders first, that way we will succeed as we will be reading from the same page.
“Education has to start at the earliest stages of development. So we need to catch the boys and girls while they are still young and encourage them against violence. That way we can be assured of a generation that shuns violence.
“Perpetrators of domestic violence should also be punished severely and that will discourage other members of society from committing similar offences,” she said.
Women’s rights groups are however on record claiming that domestic violence cases were on the increase in the country and that the organisations were attending to an average of 60 cases daily.
Msasa Project director Ms Netty Musanhi recently revealed that over 50 percent of victims of gender based violence were adolescents with her organisation providing shelter for 12 girls who fled abuse from their homes.
Statistics on abuse of women show that an average of one woman is raped every 90 minutes in the country.
The records also show that about 500 women were sexually abused monthly last year, a situation that Ms Musanhi described as unacceptable.