‘Ma 2000’ and GBV violence: where are parents going wrong?

Phillipa Jaja

Gender Based Violence (GBV) activism is the most widely campaigned event globally after the cancer awareness month in October. Running for a total of 16 days from 25 November to 10 December, it seeks to raise awareness and stem the GBV tide that has left many crippled, scarred for life and even dead in its wake.

Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is one of the most pervasive and prevalent forms of violence in our society.

It is a costly vice that leaves mental traumas in its wake robbing victims of their dignity.

This explains the hype behind it. Zimbabwe also takes GBV violence awareness seriously and with the help of global and stakeholders seeks to promote GBV free practices.

However, despite all concerted efforts, the country is still plagued by GBV in its numerous forms.

Child marriages for example are still very much a part of our culture. The practice has been buoyed by many factors such as religion and traditional practices, lack of moral education by various stakeholders and the COVID 19 pandemic to name a few.

Child marriage contributes significantly to the evil that is gender based violence. Hence it is internationally recognised in law as a form of gender-based violence.

Child marriage puts girls and women at increased risk of sexual, physical, and psychological violence and related outcomes throughout their lives.

Reasons given are that girls who marry or enter informal unions before 18 are at increased risk of violence from their partners and their partners’ families. The greater the age difference between girls and their husbands, the more likely they are to experience intimate partner violence.

Child marriages also result in early pregnancies. This increase the chances of abortion or in worst cases scenario, baby dumping or femicide since responsibility is a hard burden to bear for someone who has not come of age.

The other evil that is happening in society is the sexual violation of young girls. Recent cases have been reported with girls as young as 8 and 9 conceiving. It is important to note that the responsible fathers are young boys as well with one being 13 and two others convicted of raping the 8 year old minor being 17.

“Young children are bearing children” as articulated by Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Constantino Chiwenga.

It seems our country is failing young children given their rampant sexual exploits. In social media platforms such as whats app groups, parents are even conceding that young people are having sex.

Some parents have even hidden behind the socially construed narrative of ama2000 being uncontrollable. Young people born from 2000 are being posited as the epitome of moral decadence.

However, parents and society forget that we are the reasons ama2000 are behaving in this manner. Society no longer teaches the child moral values, rather it is the social media and the streets which do so.

Digitalisation has further eroded cultural values that used to bind society’s moral fabric. Parents are also to blame as they now have an over reliance on technology to raise a child while they attend to the day to day business of providing.

Some guardians have even let go of providing the moral compass that children should follow. A source who works for a local civic organisation in the Uzumba Marambapfungwe (UMP) area and who spoke on condition of anonymity for confidentiality reasons said

“Parents have let go. They are no longer exerting as much effort in knowing about their children’s conduct which is crucial in picking tale tell signs of early sexual activity.

We have noted it several times when dealing with rape victims. Most parents do not profess as much knowledge about the welfare of their child as is needed in noticing early signs of sexual abuse.”

This rings true in the case of the nine year old Tsholotsho girl who fell pregnant and was well advanced with the pregnancy until the mother noticed the signs.

Chief Bushu of Shamva district said some parents lack the knowledge of causal effects of social practices that contribute to GBV.

“We have some parents within our communities who we have had to dissuade from marrying off their young girls. We tell them that they are encouraging child marriage which largely contributes to abuse in marriages.

“We have realised that they are not aware because they have never had a proper education to guide them. Our area is still reeling under this problem whereby guardians do not send their children to school resulting in them indulging and getting married before the consensual age of 18 opening them up to marital abuse,”.

The onus is therefore upon parents to sensitise their children on the causal effects of GBV. Engaging in early sexual activity and marrying young are sure recipes for gender abuse. It is of no consequence to hide behind socially construed narratives of a morally decadent generation when one has the power to effect socio-behavioural change.

Parents have the power to set the correct standards of accepted principle which will discourage early sexual behaviour in their children. It will also dissuade socially unacceptable practices of sexual assault by young men which results in rape.

It is the parents’ duty to raise morally upright men that do not contribute to rape statistics in the country. As things stand, media has reported that

“… at least 22 women are raped in the country every day and there has been 74 percent increase in reported cases between 2010 and 2018.

“The statistics, compiled from police records show that one woman is abused every 75 minutes and an average of 646 women are being sexually abused monthly.”

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