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As the ITL Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls project in Zimbabwe nears its conclusion, we are delighted to share the podcast interview below with Zimbabwe Country Manager, Nicholas Shamano, where he shares his views on this project and the impact it has had.

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.

Lives impacted through this project

Before Padare came, as Village Head for Mapako, I did not understand much about gender and women issues. I presided wrongly to some cases because of lack of knowledge. I had not much respect for women and girls. I was raised in that culture that celebrates the boy child and dominance of men is hailed…. I am no longer the same man that I used to be. I learnt how to have positive fatherhood…..Our community has been lagging behind in gender transformation. Christian Aid helped Padare to reach us so that we live in peace with women, girls, men and boys. The support you gave us was not in vain.

- Mr Lameck Mapako, Traditional Leader and ITL project beneficiary..

Thank you

Thank you for standing alongside Christian Aid Zimbabwe and our local partners in driving this much needed change and helping empower communities to support women and girls for years to come.