Loveness Ndlovu, a shopkeeper in Matobo ward 15 is not only selling food, but, also, lifesaving information on consequences of gender based violence and positively influences behaviour of her customers.
UN Women estimates that globally in the past 12 months 243 million women and girls aged 15-49 years were subjected to sexual and/or physical violence perpetrated by an intimate partner. As a result of the lockdowns imposed to stop the spread of COVID-19, emerging data show that such violence has intensified.
Loveness Ndlovu, a shopkeeper, explained how isolation made good relationships become better and problematic relationships become more problematic. She emphasized that people need to be aware of the options if they are locked down with an abuser.
Loveness is a member in HOCIC’s SASA Together programme that has been in motion since 2019. She uses her advantage of being a shopkeeper at the village’s only and busiest place to distribute condoms to customers, raise awareness on Violence Against Women and Girls and teach other adolescent girls and young women on personal hygiene.
I have been a Sista for only 2 months and I mostly enjoy the teachings we get from Sindy on sex education, STIs, making informed decisions and ways to protect ourselves against unplanned and unwanted pregnancies., she said
I have an advantage of working in a shop where many people visit so I use the chance to distribute condoms and talk to men, women and girls about the harms of domestic violence. This strategy has seen more people buying at my shop because of the interesting conversations and there is an increase in condom uptake.
Condom uptake has also increased in Matobo due to their accessibility and easy going talks at the shops.
A box that used to take 3 months to be finished now takes less than a week. I am happy that people are practising safe sex and they have shunned away from gender-based violence, Loveness said.
The Adolescent Girls & Young Women’s Virtual Group is another strategy used by HOCIC’s SASA Together! team to reach out to adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in Matobo. It is a platform that teaches AGYW on life saving skills on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights aswell as informed decision making.