A Door of Hope for Zimbabwe’s Most Courageous Women
Violence against women and children is a common phenomenon in Zimbabwe. It occurs, both in the private and public spheres, catalyzed by a number of factors that stem from the way in which society is structured. These factors include culture, tradition, religion, politics, and the economy. These factors contribute to shaping societal perceptions of why violence against women occurs, how society perceives the victim and the perpetrator, and how society responds to address cases of violence against women. Amidst all the other forms of violence against women such as wife battering and ritual killings, rape and other forms of sexual violence are becoming increasing social ills in Zimbabwean society.
In 2009 a group of courageous rape survivors organized The Doors of Hope Development Trust to address the psychological needs of women who underwent a series of human rights violations and to help them develop their own potential to handle post-traumatic events of rape or sexual abuse through Trauma Healing Workshops and group awareness discussions.
The Tree of Life (ToL), a Zimbabwean non-profit that provides group based approaches to healing and empowering survivors of organized violence and torture, has supported Doors of Hope as they emerge into a more self-sustaining group. Tree of Life is facilitated by survivors themselves and uses the tree as a metaphor to provide a framework for understanding the trauma experience as well as strategies for empowerment. During the last two years the ToL has been working carefully and cautiously with Doors of Hope and by the end of last year had trained four of their senior members in conducting healing workshops. Currently the Doors of Hope is comprised of 5 volunteer staff and a membership of approximately 375 women from around Zimbabwe.
With WDP’s support, Doors of Hope will be one step closer to extending its outreach to other women survivors through trauma healing workshops, sensitization/advocacy meetings around the country and capacity-building/organization development training for Doors of Hope staff.