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Domestic violence is not part of African culture

Domestic Violence is one of the leading causes of death for women aged between 15 to 40 years in this country. The Ministry of Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development last year announced that domestic violence accounted for 60 percent of all murder cases heard in Zimbabwean courts in 2006 (Musasa Project Report 2006.)

According to Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS) Executive Director, Mrs Lois Chingandu, these figures are shocking but what is worse is the fact that in most cases this violence against women is carried out under the guise of culture and tradition, which is intolerable.

"In my culture, when I got married, my father gave my husband a stick. That stick came with a message - that my husband should never beat me. So where is this culture of beating coming from?

"It is not and has never been an African value or part of our culture that wives should be beaten or battered. If there are problems within the home we need to go back to the extended family to take up the issues. This should happen before a beating and battering rather than afterwards," Mrs Chingandu said.

In the absence of the extended family she said it was important for society to find other mechanisms to resolve differences instead of resorting to fighting because this violent behaviour directly or indirectly exposes women to the risk of HIV infection.

Against this background, SAfAIDS in partnership with Rozaria Memorial Trust are co-hosting a discussion forum titled, "Addressing HIV and AIDS and gender based violence from a Cultural Perspective", at Murehwa Centre this Wednesday (14 November 2007) from 9:30 am to 13:30 Hours.

As Zimbabwe and the rest of the world gets ready to commemorate 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence from the 25th of November to the 10th of December, SAfAIDS believes it is crucial to create platforms for communities to talk about some of the beliefs that fuel GBV and to come up with practical and lasting solutions.

The discussion forum therefore aims to provide the community with a platform to dialogue and share ideas on how culture can be harnessed to respond to HIV and AIDS and gender based violence.

The Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa will be the guest of honour. Traditional leaders, chiefs, headman, village heads and members of the Murehwa community are expected to attend.