GBV situation unpleasant in Zambia, Gender minister
By Staff Reporter
Gender minister Elizaberth Phiri has disclosed that gender-based violence is gut-wrenching, a situation that requires immediate action.
Phiri told journalists a latest national survey present an unpleasant revelation that 48 per cent of women aged 15 to 49 had experienced gender-based violence (GBV) at some point in their lives.
The minister said 42 per cent of women aged 20 to 24 were married off by the age of 18.
“This means that the issue of GBV is still very serious, especially against women and girls. We are extremely concerned as a government; we seem not to be winning the battle and we need to work harder with all citizens joining hands. Gender inequalities are still high in our communities – implying that women’s low status in relation to men’s in our societies contributes to GBV,” Phiri said at a press briefing on yesterday in Lusaka.
Phiri, however, underscored that even though current statistics were painting a negative picture of the situation of GBV in Zambia, it was gratifying that a number of victims were now coming out in the open to report.
“We take it as a strength in the fight against gender-based violence for it gives the victims a chance to get justice. The Ministry of Gender has been implementing a number of strategies involving various stakeholders to prevent gender-based violence and mitigate impact on each person affected,” she said.
She added that it was normal for an aggrieved citizen, whether woman or man, to withdraw a GBV case from the police or court for economic reasons.
“Generally, the cases have been on the rise; we have also seen [an] increase on stories of GBV reported in the press. Disappointing enough, we are seeing even leaders, female leaders mainly, being insulted on social media. There are classes of gender-based violence – it can be economic gender-based violence, verbal gender-based violence, sexual gender-based violence or the common one when people are fighting,” she explained.
According to the report released by the police two weeks ago, during the third quarter of 2018, 6, 114 cases were reported. Of this number, 3, 702 were women while 1, 186 were men, 100 were girls, 226 were boys.
Up to the end of the third quarter, 18, 128 cases were reported of various forms of gender-based violence.
Phiri also said her ministry was working with other government ministries and departments such as the police to highlight cases of gender based violence in places of work and communities.
And a civil society organisation, Musokotwane Compassion Mission Zambia (MCMZ) Executive Director, Sibbuku Musokotwane says reported defilement cases in the first three quarter of 2018 should be a source of concern to all stakeholders.
Zambia ranks highly at 664 children during the period under review and Musokotwane calls for action to make reversals to the trend.
“This period must be a reminder to the Zambian government and all stakeholders on ending gender-based violence and early child marriages that there is urgent need to amend the inconsistencies (of) the laws addressing violence against women and children, and also the need to criminalize the practice of child marriage by law in Zambia,” Musokotwane said.
He added that curbing violence against women and children required stiffer laws in order to protect the victims.
Musokotwane also welcomed the launch of the Choma GBV Fast track court, adding that it would enhance access to justice and quick disposal of GBV and related cases.
“The general public should ensure that they report cases of GBV and child marriage so that these cases can see their day in court,” he said.