LYNDONVILLE, Vermont – When Kim’s husband received the news that he was HIV positive, her life took a dramatic turn. He became physically and emotionally abusive, making her life torture.
As Kim described: “When he tested positive, life became more difficult; he did not want me to go anywhere or even talk to anyone. I was forced to stay in the house sleeping. I became a slave and I was left without any option but to stay with him. He threatened to kill me if I ran away.”
After repeated beatings, threats made with a knife and unprotected rapes, however, Kim did run away.
She holed up with her sister, who convinced her to go to the authorities. Kim’s husband was eventually arrested and sentenced-a mere month in prison.
“One day after serving his prison term, he came where we stayed and destroyed everything in the house,” recounted Kim, who added her husband continued to abuse she and her sister. His taunting culminated with a fierce beating after which he left Kim to die. He was arrested for a second time and Kim was saved by being rushed to the hospital.
Kim’s harrowing tale is just one of 85 testimonies collected from survivors of violence in Zimbabwe. They are part of Zimbabwe’s first comprehensive study on violence against women. The United Nations women-supported study, ‘Peace begins@Home, Violence against Women Baseline Study’ surveyed 6,600 respondents, uncovering some grim data.
Below are 10 statistics that capture the dark landscape of intimate partner violence in Zimbabwe.
1. A quarter of women in Zimbabwe experienced some form of violence, psychological, emotional, physical or sexual, perpetrated by an intimate partner between 2011 and 2012.
2. Within the same time period, 13 percent of men in the country admitted to perpetrating some form of violence against their intimate partners.
3. A full 69 percent of women reported experiencing intimate partner violence at some point in their lifetime.
4. 41 percent of men admitted to perpetrating intimate partner violence in their lifetime.
5. One in every 14 physically abused women reported their abuse to the police and only one in 13 women sought medical attention for their injuries.
6. Only four of every 1,000 women survivors obtained a protection order against a physically abusive partner.
7. One in 10 women raped by non-partners reported it to the police with a total of only one in seven women rape survivors reporting their violence.
8. Only one in 18 female rape survivors had sought medical attention with one fifth of rape survivors experiencing depressive symptoms. 19 percent of women who had experienced rape attempted suicide.
9. The most prevalent form of intimate partner violence reported was emotional violence, with a full 56 percent of women having experienced it: “It is the silent death that women live with daily and which affects their agency,” said Colleen Lowe Morna, the CEO of Gender Links, a Southern Africa NGO involved in the study.
10. Zimbabwe has a strong legal framework for addressing violence against women, yet meaningfully, the study found only half of the respondents were aware of the country’s Domestic Violence Act.
– Kelley Calkins