Working with prisoners to tackle GBV
A key aspect of the project is the work conducted in prisons with those who have been convicted of gender based violence offences. Following a national consultative meeting with the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, it was identified that there was a gap in prisoners’ rehabilitation programs, as there were no services specifically targeting gender based violence (GBV) offenders. To address this need, a unique behaviour change initiative was launched, supporting offenders to change their attitudes towards women and GBV, ahead of their release and community integration, to reduce their chances of reoffending.
This work is vital as the majority of GBV offenders, especially those convicted of rape and serving long term sentences, do not acknowledge that they committed an offense, a reflection of the normalisation of GBV. Part of the process of changing hearts and mind, has involved engaging with prison staff, on GBV laws and general GBV awareness to foster positive gender sensitive attitudes and upskilling them to provide counselling to inmates.
The engagement process has resulted in greater trust leading to more open discussions. Several inmates convicted of rape are now conceding to their crime and we are seeing the beginning of wider behavioural change, particularly in challenging existing norms in the use violence in any conflict situation as a way of demonstrating manhood.