MUTARE – A 20-year-old Gender Based Violence (GBV) survivor who suffered a lot of abuse from her brutal husband and mother-in-law has finally broken the silence by reporting her case to Zimunya Police Station after being severely injured.
This emerged at St Johns Anglican Cathedral on November 26 where Christian women from districts of Manicaland province convened to commemorate 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.
The commemoration was facilitated by Methodist Development and Relief Agency (MeDRA) in partnership with Act Alliance Zimbabwe Forum and SIDE BY SIDE.
Chido Zikiti (20) dropped out of school when she was in grade 7 at Chigodora Primary School which is located less than 30 km from Mutare.
The donor who was paying for her fees could no longer pay and this forced Chido out of school at a very young age.
She became an orphan at 12 years of age and started working as a maid since she had no one to provide for her.
After being impregnated at the age of 17 years, Chido was married off to an abusive man with whom she led a miserable life.
“I was in a terrible marriage which was so painful. I had no peace and harmony since my husband and mother- in-law inflicted a lot of pain to me on a daily basis.
"My husband on several times brought his girlfriend into our bedroom and I was beaten whenever I asked him about what was happening. My mother-in-law, my husband and his aunties would always find fault with me.
"They never minded that I was still nursing wounds I sustained as I delivered my baby by Caesarean operation. I have never fully-recovered up to now because I still feel the pain at the slightest change of weather," said Chido.
She said she finally made up her mind to quit after a violent domestic incident which left her with internal injuries.
"Although I was subjected to a lot of emotional and physical abuse, I remained docile with the hope that the marriage will finally work out. Every day I nursed up my husband's brother who had a disability but they never appreciated it.
"I decided to take a stand and speak out after my mother-in-law's two sisters kicked me all over the body. I was badly injured inside my body and I decide to leave," she said.
Chido went to receive treatment while at own parents' home but she is now renting a room in Zimunya because her own brother did not approve of her leaving her abusive husband.
She makes some money by crushing huge rocks into quarry which she then sell to people with building projects which are becoming fewer due to the rains.
"I produce concrete worth US$30 on a monthly basis but it’s not enough since I need to pay rent as well as buy food and child's wear. I have to balance all my expenses on that very small budget.
"My aunt agreed to stay with the child to give me a chance to work but my former husband does not provide anything,” she said.
Speaking during the event, Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) Pastor Edson Mukaro said the church had a responsibility to fight abuse, hold abusers accountable and help survivors of GBV.
"It is one of the critical roles the of church to hold perpetrators of violence accountable for their actions. It is also our responsibility as followers of Christ to help and support survivors of GBV rather than stigmatize them," said Mukaro.
MeDRA official Mrs Chikara implored urged women to change cultural practices that give rise to gender discrimination and GBV.
"We must challenge cultural practices that discriminate people based on gender. Gender roles change with time and as church women, we can bring that change for the good of our society. We must not allow forced wife inheritance and sacrificing the girl child to appease avenging spirits," said Chikara.
The 16 Days of Activisim against Gender Based Violence are observed yearly from November 25 to December 10 to help highlight that problem.
This year, the campaign is running under the global theme dubbed Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Collect and Prevent.