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“If he does not hit you, he does not love you enough” is the sort of age-old ‘truism’ that Zimbabwe activists say gives men free rein to beat their wives and stops women complaining. But things are now changing, according to women’s rights activists, albeit slowly and from a crashingly low base. At least one in three women in Zimbabwe encounters physical violence, most at the hands of a husband or partner – a grim statistic that has only worsened in lockdown as domestic tensions play out around the clock and behind locked doors. 

In 2020, the national gender-based violence hotline run by women’s rights charity Musasa answered nearly 7,000 calls from mainly women in distress, a 40% increase from the previous year. This was worsened by Covid-19 lockdowns as women were trapped inside with their abusers, writes Farai Shawn Matiashe for The Conversation.