Zambia still battles to control GBV
By Kulthum Ally, Lusaka Zambia
Despite on-going campaign, cases of Gender Based Violence GBV in Zambia are still on increase especially child abuse which remain a big challenge, affecting the development of child psychologically. GBV has also not spared undermining social and economic values.
The society, the government, and activists still need to find workable means to get out the abuse, a threat to the development children in Zambia.
Defilements, rape, Child neglect, early marriage, sodomy and incest, child physical abuse, and emotional abuse are still common in Zambia.
An annual report of 2010 by the Young Women Christians Association (YWCA) on children abuse shows that about 253 cases of defilement, 51 rape cases, 63 early marriages, 1,707 cases of Child maintenance neglect, and more than 45 cases of Physical abuse, Emotional abuse, incest, and sodomy were recorded in the year. These YWCA shows an increase of GBV in Zambia compared to the findings in 2008/2009
The YWCA program manager Ms Royter Choongo singled out leading cases of abuse in the country as defilements rape, sodomy, and incest’s. She said that, also cases of children discrimination have been common affecting children psychologically.
Choongo blames ignorance, traditions belief and customs and taboos associated with shame, for the increasing children abuse.
“One of the cases that actually took long to be reported was the issue of defilement, due to traditional believe, that you know here in Zambia, when you go to some of our province , they will tell you that in Nyanja ‘Aliye mulandu’ , which translate in English as “you have no offence at all..”, she said
Adding “it is not bad and not an offence at all for a father to sleep with his daughter. It is considered a minor issue, therefore defilement continues due to bad traditional belief, hampering the campaign to end GBV,” she said.
The escalating GBV prompted, she said, YWCA as non- organisations to initiate efforts to educate the society and communities about negative impact of GBV, and sensitize particularly about Child abuse, so that the society can help reduce this problem.
“Already there are positive results from the sensitization program. By applying different sensitization strategies members of the Zambia community are changing and many are reporting cases of abuse,” she said
However, admitted that despite the efforts, many children and women are still abused, and unfortunately some women have died and others amputated because of abuse including beating by a spouse. “Also discrimination in families is still common,” she said.
She noted that some families preferring to solve the problem within the family also has been a setback in arresting and taking perpetrators in court, and that some members of the family opt to withdraw cases from the court!
Paralegal Counsel of YWCA Irene Nkunda said that the major challenge they are facing to is to deal with more clients every day, and this has become difficult more especially when they want to do follow up.
“Like YWCA in Zambia we are in all the provinces. In counselling services, we are getting a lot of clients every day. We have challenge with how to cope with them in a day eg. seeing twenty clients per day becomes too much for the counsellors. She said
Nkunda said that, another major problem that the organisation faces is dealing with children. The challenge of children clients is that they take long to recover.
“In the process of counselling, we sometimes do pre or post counselling of which post counselling is dangerous because most of the clients have already gone through pain and it takes a longer time for them recover or to be well again “she said that
Recently in his message on the International Women Day , President Sata said his government will systematically domesticate the provisions of the convention on the rights of the child and the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women as outlined in the Patriotic Front -PF manifesto.
He said this will be done to ensure that the government puts into practice its commitments to the advancements of girls and women
Mr Sata directed the ministries of Justice and Gender and Child Development to work with relevant Institutions to ensure that appropriate provisions under the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women are fully domesticated.
The President said enacting legislation is an important aspect of ensuring that girls grow up in an environment free of violence , adding that providing guidance and mentoring girls are equally critically.
“I firmly believe that our society has a central role in providing guidance to both girls and boys to enable them to grow into adults who promote equity and equality and treatment of each other as partners in development ‘ President Sata said.
He also said Government will not sit back in the face of the increasing cases of cervical cancer, exposure to drug trafficking and other challenges such as Gender based violence .
He said Government will provide adequate resources to ensure that Gender based violence Act is Implemented. he also directed ministers of Finance and National Planning , Justice Community Development and Mother and Child Development to ensure that the Gender- Based Violence Act is implemented as soon as possible .