Gender Action Teams: A Community Game Changer for Gender Justice

A positive initial contact experience with police is critical for survivors of GBV. SAfAIDS  Zimbabwe in collaboration with Sonke Gender Justice and local partner BMT, under the Rights, Action and Accountability programme established Gender Action Teams (GATs) to mobilise their communities and  hold State institutions to account for gender justice in Hwange District. The GATs have played an enabling role in linking GBV survivors to access justice, holding the criminal justice system to account, and are now regarded as the first port of call for GBV issues by both the community and law enforcement agents. The two teams of GATs from Silewu and Matetsi wards of Hwange underwent capacity building in GBV case tracking and monitoring which equipped them with tools and skills to identify and document new and pending GBV cases, and concerns with the court system as well as to propose practical solutions, improve the administration of justice, increase public awareness of and public trust in the justice system. The initiative is addressing legal bottlenecks to motivate reporting incidents and case prosecution.

After undergoing capacity strengthening, the GATs have been proactive in tracking and monitoring GBV cases through door-to-door home visits, food relief meetings, phone calls, text messages and WhatsApp. During the year, the GATs tracked 18 GBV cases, with survivors referred for services that include police, social welfare department and judiciary. In Silewu community, the programme established good rapport with the local police, Dete Police Station which has resulted in easy follow-up, referral and reporting of GBV cases. In one GBV case, tracked by the GATs, a woman with disability had been consistently abused by her husband, who threatened her and bragged that he has many connections within the police force, and she could do nothing.

Following community GBV awareness sessions conducted by the GATs, the woman got the courage to report the matter to the GATs, who teamed up with journalists to amplify the issue. The GATs reported the case to ZRP Victim Friendly Unit, which resulted in the arrest of the perpetrator. The GATs will continue to track the case that has been filed in court. Another GBV case supported by the GATs involved a 12-years old girl who suffered multiple rape resulting in pregnancy. The rape case was reported to the police and three of the perpetrators were arrested. The team appealed to the the court for termination of the pregnancy. Regional Magistrate of Hwange who worked closed with the district medical officer approved the appeal.’



“The COVID-19 pandemic has witnessed an increase in the rate of domestic violence against women, girls and men in Hwange communities. We have responded by monitoring and tracking the cases and support survivors with access to police, counselling and referral to other support services. The successes we have made in ensuring survivors get deserved justice have increased community confidence in us and we are now receiving increased cases to support with some of the issues going beyond GBV” – Collins Nkomo, GAT member from Silewu




Meanwhile, as a way of enhancing the knowledge of GATs in GBV cases tracking, the police in the project area have equipped 11 GAT members from Silewu on criminal procedures.