Save the Children raises concern over ‘a child defiled every 4 hours’ report

By Staff Reporter

Save the Children has condemned the high levels of sexual violence against children in Zambia.

And Save the Children disclosed that the 2018 African Report on Child Wellbeing cites Zambia’s legal and policy frameworks protecting children as being weak.

Save the Children country director, Duncan Harvey noted that the cases of child defilement were occurring at an average rate of six cases per day, meaning one was child defiled every four hours.

“We call upon all institutions, households and individuals to uphold the highest standards of behaviours towards children, both in their private and professional lives,” Harvey said.

According to the first quarter gender-based violence statistics by the Zambia Police, the nation recorded 495 child defilement cases, the figures which remain high.

While there is a reduction by 150 cases compared to the same period last year, the current figures remain unacceptably high. Earlier this year, the nation was informed that in 2018, the total recorded child defilement cases stood at 2,578 (2,574 girls and four boys).

Harvey said that Save the Children through its child protection work supports parents and institutions to prioritise the rights of children, especially their right to be protected from all forms of harm.

“These statistics show us that in spite of efforts by various actors to curb this form of violence, much more needs to be done to protect children. We note that these statistics refer only to those cases that have been reported to the police, so there may be many more Zambian children who have experienced violence but have not reported,” Harvey said.

He called on parents and other primary caregivers, community members, local leaders, the media, civil society and state actors like the Zambia Police, Ministry of Justice and the department of Child Welfare and Protection to act and ensure the environment in and around the home is safe for their children.

“The violence against children report released last year indicated that 58% of violence against children happens at home or nearby,” Harvey said.

He said that children must be given the confidence to report any form of abuse they experience to parents, caregivers, police, their teachers or even their neighbours.

“They must be able to report in the knowledge that they will be treated with dignity, sensitivity and confidence in all cases,” Harvey said.

Harvey indicated that the Department of Child Welfare and Protection must have adequate facilities to house and protect victims of this heinous form of violence against children.

“The police must investigate and act on all child sexual abuse with the urgency it deserves. The judiciary must expedite all sexual gender-based violence cases involving children,” he said.

And Harvey has disclosed that the 2018 African Report on Child Wellbeing cites Zambian legal and policy frameworks in providing protection to children as being weak.

“This serves to remind the Zambian government to expedite the enactment of the Child Code Bill. It is our considered view that Zambia’s poor ranking in the mentioned report is a compelling reason for the prompt presentation and enactment of the Children’s Code Bill without delay,” Harvey said.

“Save the Children further calls upon our partners in the media to be the strong voice children need at a time when they are experiencing pain, danger and injustice as a result of this despicable form of violence. The media must report all forms of violence children are exposed to in Zambia using child friendly reporting principles regardless of the form the violence takes, be it emotional, physical, and sexual, exploitation and child labour or neglect,” Harvey said.

He further called for an uncompromising determination from all actors to put in place the concrete measures listed above that will address sexual violence against children.

“As a nation, our efforts to achieve child wellbeing, such as education and health, will be greatly undermined if we do not tackle this serious form of child rights abuse and we will fail to reach the targets we have signed up for under the Sustainable Development Goals,” Harvey said.