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Leave no one behind, end gender based violence now!

The Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL) joins the rest of the world in commemorating the 2017 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence (GBV) whose theme is “Leave no one behind, end gender based violence now”. The 16 Days of Activism Against GBV, is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, the Human Rights Day. It is a time to direct world attention to the problem of GBV.

BACKGROUND

GBV is defined as any physical, mental, social or economic abuse against a person because of that person’s gender and it includes:

(a) Violence that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to a person, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life;

(b) Actual or threatened physical, mental, social or economic abuse that occurs in a domestic relationship. Based on international reviews, it has been estimated that approximately one out of every three women globally is beaten, raped or otherwise abused during her lifetime (Heise, Ellsberg et al. 1999).

(c) Sexual violence e.g. Rape, defilement, incest and sexual harassment.

(d) Physical violence refers to physical harm or use of physical force against another person e.g. beating, kicking, slapping, and pouring hot liquid on a person, violence using weapons.

(e) Emotional/Violence refers to a pattern of humiliating conduct towards a person and includes insults, name calling including threats that cause emotional distress; being obsessively jealous, which constitute a serious invasion of the person’s privacy, liberty, integrity, or security;

(f) Economic violence refers to unreasonably denying a victim, family member or dependent of financial resources they are entitled to by law and includes property grabbing;

(g) Harmful traditional practices such as child marriage, sexual cleansing, widow inheritance etc.

COMMEMORATION OF THE 16 DAYS OF GENDER ACTIVISM AGAINST GBV IN ZAMBIA

The theme for the 2017 16 Days of Activism Against GBV which is “Leave no one behind, end gender based violence now,” addresses the need for a holistic approach to the challenge of GBV through the involvement of all stakeholders.

The 16 Days of Activism against GBV is also a time to remember victims and survivors of GBV and further re-evaluate the effectiveness of interventions currently in place to address the problem.

It is a period to lobby for increased efforts towards fighting the scourge and cast light on the wider and long term effects of violence on members of society.

In 2017, the Zambia Police recorded 55 GBV related murder cases representing an increase of 25.5 percent against 41 recorded in the same period in 2016. There was also a spike in cases of Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily of Harm (A0ABH) of 32.3 percent in 2017 with 1,644 cases being recorded this year against 1,359 cases in 2016. Of the number of victims of Assault (OABH) recorded in 2017, 82. 7 percent were female.

The total number GBV cases reported from the first quarter to the third quarter of 2017 stands at 16,090 compared to 13,092 GBV cases during the same period in 2016 representing an increase of 2998 or 18.6 percent. The police also observed an increase in the physical type of GBV with cases such as unlawful wounding, Assault (OABH) and murder.

It should be noted that these figures may only be a fraction of what is actually obtaining as many cases especially in rural areas often go unreported.

The ZNWL is deeply concerned about the increase in cases of GBV. The unnecessary loss of life, grievous and sometimes irreversible harm being occasioned on victims of GBV, is indicative of the gravity of the problem at hand.

GBV is hindering national productivity as it is occurring amongst people in the productive age group who are having to deal with the negative physical and psychological consequences of the vice.

ADDRESSING GBV

Various strategies have been recommended for the prevention / reduction of GBV and most of them are already being implemented in Zambia. They include legal provisions such as the anti-GBV Act, GBV Fast Track Courts and One Stop Centres, discouraging discriminatory, cultural and religious practices in the communities.

There is need to scale –up these programmes and enhance availability and access to anti GBV support services such as safe houses and economic empowerment of victims and would be victims as well as consider how to address the emerging trends in GBV.

Continuous monitoring and review of the enforcement and implementation of anti GBV strategies and documentation of best practices by the government and other stakeholders should also be prioritized.

The ZNWL with support from the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and other partners has been contributing to the reduction and prevention of GBV in Zambia. Through the NCA funded Gender Justice Project, the ZNWL is engaging men, women, boys and girls in five provinces namely: Copperbelt Province (Mufulira and Ndola district), Eastern Province (Chipata and Katete district), Western Province (Mongu and Kaoma district) and Southern Province (Choma and Monze district) and North Western Province (Kasempa and Solwezi district).

Interventions in this project include discussions with men on the role of drug and alcohol abuse in fueling GBV. Regular meeting are held with community members in the form of dialogues for women and girls, men and boys where issues of GBV are discussed. ZNWL has been engaging traditional and religious leaders and marriage counsellors in the target areas on various issues including the revision of the marriage curriculum to incorporate best practices that promote the rights of women, men, girl and boys. Support groups for boys in schools and men friendly corners on GBV in churches have established to facilitate dissemination of correct information and sharing of experiences on GBV.