Chiredzi Border Villagers Exposed to COVID-19 Spread, Violence Against Women

Concerned that the Covid-19 pandemic is going unchecked at most illegal national border crossings into Zimbabwe, a local church organisation has expanded its awareness on the virus and gender-based violence (GBV) prevention to an exposed village community in Chiredzi.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZ) is encouraging village communities to prevent the spread of the virus by using best practices and to remain vigilant against violence toward women.

The church has since collaborated with counsellors, a local MP, and traditional leaders in Gurungweni village in the southeastern province of Masvingo.

The village is along the borders of Mozambique and South Africa and has become a popular illegal entry by Zimbabweans coming home in light of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The returning residents are not going through the mandatory 21-day quarantine and Covid-19 screening at government-run isolation centres.

“Without proper Covid-19 screening or quarantine, this makes the community a highly vulnerable area” ELCZ gender justice programme coordinator, Elitha Moyo.

“In this era of Covid-19 pandemic, families, and communities are encouraged to make sure that everyone is safe from GBV, coronavirus and from any other dangers that threaten life,” Moyo said.

“The threat of increased Covid-19 cases in the border town raises concern for the welfare of women and children’s safety. Covid-19 exposed more cases of gender-based violence and gender inequality.

“The inability to work because of Covid-19 restrictions has led to a shortage of income and food insecurity and an increase in physical and emotional abuse and more childhood marriages,” she added.

The ELCZ presented face masks and hand sanitisers to village leaders for distribution to the entire community especially the vulnerable populations like the elderly and women who have limited access to personal protective gear.

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