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Interview with Sr. Magwisi of Musasa Project
Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa, Kubatana.net
July 21, 2009

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Read Inside/Out with Sr. Magwisi

Read our interview with Loise Mangwiro, a survivor of domestic violence

Sr. MagwisiWhy was Musasa Project established?
Musasa Project was established by two women; a psychologist and a lawyer after they realized that there was a lot of abuse was happening to women. This drove them to start the Musasa Project.

We offer a counseling service; we do what is called crisis counseling. And we also give long term counseling, but we have other departments. For example we have an educational department that does public education for all Zimbabweans. We have a department that deals with issues of HIV/AIDS that works towards empowering women about issues concerning HIV.

Abuse usually happens within the home. It can be physical, psychological, economic or sexual and a family member perpetrates this violence. It can be a woman abusing her husband, or a husband abusing his wife, or the father abusing a child.

Do you get men coming to Musasa Project looking for help?
Lately there have been a lot of men coming here but since our target population is women, we have a brother organisation, Padare where we refer them. We do listen to their problems before we refer them.

What is the severity of the cases that you receive?
It depends; sometime you will receive a case that will paralyze you as a counselor for the whole day. In some cases you wonder what really happened for such an incident to take place. Some cases are light cases. Recently it does seem that most of the women coming are having a crisis based on economic issues.
Listen

Does a crisis of economic issues mean that they are dependent on their husbands?
Because of how women were brought up, issues involving money have always been left for the husband. As a result most of the women who come to Musasa struggle to get a dollar for transport to come for the counseling services. They complain that their husbands aren't giving them money to buy a basic meal for the children; or even money for medication when they have been infected with an STI. Listen

Do you think African culture in the way that it teaches women that we are subordinate to men is a good thing in cases of domestic violence?
You know, sometimes these issues are cultural. It is how things have been viewed for a long time. Sometimes it is difficult to address these cultural things. But with women being educated and going to universities, they are addressing these issues of gender based violence, cultural norms and beliefs, versus how you as yourself how you are supposed to interact with people and not to depend on the norms and beliefs of other people. Listen

What are your operating hours and where are you?
Musasa project officers, that is the counselors, are available to offer services from 8am to 4 pm. We are open from Monday to Friday. On Saturday and Sunday we don't work. We have toll free lines that someone can reach us on even during the night. They are 0912 100 049 or 0912 100 052. Our offices are situated on the corner Seventh and Selous in Harare. In Bulawayo the offices are situated at 49 Fife Street. In Gweru they are situated at number 74 Ninth Street.

Do you have any advice for anyone who is living in an abusive situation?
For anyone living in an abusive situation I can say please stand up and look for assistance. Culturally people are told that chakafukidza dzimba madenga but we are saying that it doesn't mean that you must tell someone whom you don't trust. We are there for you as counselors. If you have something that is bothering you, which involves issues of domestic violence, we are here for you. You should come out into the open and talk to us. Listen

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