On Friday the 2nd of October 2020 Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe (LCDZ), under the United Nations Partnership to Promote Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD), held a stakeholder’s workshop meeting at the Hopely district clinic. The purpose of which was to give feedback on their prior 2019 research conducted in Shamva district and to continue with the desensitization of disability, especially in girls and women.


The workshop kick started with the facilitators offering more information on disability by educating and informing the stakeholders on what disability really is, along with its causes and how to handle or assist people who are disabled, especially young girls and women that are subject to Gender Based Violence (GBV) in increasing numbers, as research would have it show.


Once clarification had been established on what disability is and the cause of it, there was a deeper understanding on the feedback of the research that was conducted by LCDZ in the district of Shamva. From the results it was clear that girls and women with disabilities were harshly segregated and discriminated in their communities, easily making them victims of sexual and other forms of abuse as well as targets of harmful traditional beliefs. Their vulnerability is mainly based on the fact that no one attends to their cry for help or considers their human rights.


During the workshop, issues of concern that were brought up where of how girls and women with disabilities, inclusive of those with albinism, were targeted for ritual practices because the locals believed that sleeping with them would cure them of HIV and, as for family members, it would gain them riches.


In areas such as Bubi, Sanyati and Shamva were artisanal mining is prominent, girls and women with disabilities are believed to be an omen of luck to gain more gold. People with disabilities are being buried outside of their own villages in a bid to rid the village of any curses or future disabilities. This proved to be rather sad pieces of information as such practices were thought to have been abandoned long ago.


Women and girls with disabilities are further discriminated through the Three Tier Discrimination levels which segregates these girls and women for reasons such as merely being a woman, being disabled and being poor.


Due to their disability, women are considered to be incapable of doing their duties of pleasing their husband and doing basic home based chores, putting them under further scrutiny from other community members. According to the community, disabled girls are considered to be asexual and this notion puts them at a greater risk of sexual abuse as men will target them thinking that since no one loves them, no one will care about them.


People with disabilities are thought to be dependent on assistance for food and their general livelihood from others. Members of the community think they are less intelligent than someone without a disability, leading to most decisions being made for them and increasing their level of dependence. This later on results in them being victims of exploitation and abuse.