During a workshop of media sensitization on sexual violence against women and girls in the Kabwe and Livingstone, I got the opportunity to interact with survivors of sexual violence in A Safer Zambia, (ASAZA) and ONE STOP CENTRE.
“I was raped three times within one month” said one of survivor of ASAZA, in the Kabwe and “I was sexually abused by my own biological father” said a nine years old survivor of One Stop Centre, in Livingstone, Zambia
ASAZA is where a survivors of sexual violence, report to police , get paralegal services and counseling and medical attention in one place.
ONE STOP CENTER, is where children of sexually abused are taking care.
Stories of survivors of sexual or gender based violence especially the stories by innocent children, pregnant ladies and disabled women and girls touched everyone’s heart.. Through the violence, they suffer a lot like psychologically disturbance, transmit on of sexual disease, unsafe abortion, stigma and lose of life. Sexual or gender based violence pushes the country backward in the terms of development. Poverty, maternal mortality and HIV infection rate increases daily..
Why do women and girls became victims? Why don’t people respect women and girls, as if women and girls are not human being like men? Where do we go to find out our dignity and respect ? Why does the Government also treat women and girls as a second grade citizen? Do the men compare the women with a cloth that whenever they like to change.
According to Zambia’s Anti-Gender Based Violence Act No. 1 of 2011, Gender- based violence means any physical, mental, social or economic abuse against a person’s gender.
Many of Zambian women and girls in rural areas as well as urban areas have had a bad experienced of the sexual or gender based violence e.g. defilement, rape, trafficking, beaten or marital rape.Most of perpetrators are family members, like father, step father, uncle, brother and neighbors, teachers and friends as well.
When I read through the online newspaper of my country (Nepal), I found almost every week one news about sexual or gender based violence against girls and women. In my country, this happens basically in rural areas. Perpetrators take advantage of young, poor and illiterate or uneducated girls.
Sexual or gender based violence against girls and women is a common problem in Zambia as well as all over the developing countries. Worldwide, an estimated 1 in 3 women will experience some form of sexual or gender based violence (SGBV) in their lifetime.
Women and girls are vulnerable due to lack of education, poverty, gender inequality and low status in the family or society. Some of the cultural practices also do not on the favour girls or women and contribute to increase sexual or gender based violence.
The government and non government organizations are working to eliminate sexual or gender based violence ..
Government, through the Gender in Development Division (GIDD), has launched the National Action Plan on Gender Based Violence 2010-2014 and the Nation Gender Communication Strategy 2010-2015.
Non Government like,Tisunge Ana Athu Akazi Coalition (TAAAC) is working to eliminate violence against girls from Zambia on the help of United Nations Trust Fund. Tisunge Ana Athu Akazi means lets save our girls in local language.
Once the case of SGBV reported in police or other organization, victims get counseling, medical attention and paralegals support for justices. According to the law of Zambia, when the court adjudication is in t favours of the survivor , then perpetrator will pay compensation or will be sentenced to jail for more then one year or both.
But most of SGBV cases are not reported because survivors do not know the process and importance of reporting. They fear to end up their family or marriage relationship. Sometime they also receive threats from perpetrators.
In order to fight with sexual or gender based violence scourge, gender activists annually commemorate the “ 16 Days of activism against Gender Based Violence” every year among the 164 countries of the World. This year we are also going to commemorate 16 days activism against Gender Based Violence with the theme of “ From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Lets Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women”.
Despite the increasing awareness on the issues of sexual or gender based violence, girl and women all across the world and Zambia particularly, continue to experience different form of violence.
There is weak enforcement of laws against sexual or gender based violence because there are no specific laws and policy guideline on it. Not enough victim support units and counseling services for girls and young women who have experienced sexual or gender based violence.
As a gender activists, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists and citizen of Zambia let’s give the pressure to Government for making strong policy and laws on the sexual or gender based violence. And also sensitize the traditional leader and men and boys of communities to say no more violence against women and girls. And let women and girls live free from all kinds of violence.