Dual action needed in fighting against Covid-19 and GBV, the shadow pandemic

The fight against gender based violence remains a priority even in the raging pandemic By Esinathy Sibanda Trending videos of men gruesomely kicking and bashing women on social media are just one recent example of gender-based violence gleaned in our society, but unfortunately, it is all too common, and—for multiple colliding reasons—the prevalence of such violence appears to have been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Existing high levels of GBV in Zimbabwe, driven by factors including patriarchal social norms and gender inequalities, have been exacerbated by the responses to the pandemic. Since the lockdown began, Zimbabwean organisations have seen increases in reports of GBV and child protection concerns, including child marriage, underage pregnancy and girls engaging in transactional sex. Prior to the pandemic, girls from poorer households and girls with lower levels of formal education were at higher risk of child marriage in Zimbabwe (ZIMSTAT, 2018). COVID-19 threatens to bring more girls into this high-risk group.

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