IT is encouraging to read that traditional leaders are being engaged by Government and like-minded organisations to take up the fight against gender based violence (GBV).According to media reports Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Lawrence Sichalwe has called for effective involvement of traditional leaders in the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV) and spread of HIV/AIDS if the two vices are to be curtailed.Last month the Zambia Police Service reported that cases of Gender Based Violence had risen to 7,640 countrywide in the third quarter of 2020 compared to 6,788 recorded during the same period in 2019.Police Spokesperson Esther Katongo said this marked a 19.8 % hike. Third quarter disaggregated data indicates that 1,849 children were abused countrywide representing 24.2 percent of all the victims of GBV.
She indicated that out of the 1,849 child victims, 1,363 were girls representing 74 percent while 486 were boys representing 26 percent of all abused child victims respectively as well as 4,425 women and 1,366 men were abused countrywide representing 58% and 18 % respectively.
Ms Katongo also disclosed that Lusaka Province recorded the highest number of child defilement cases with 301 translating to 42% of the child defilement cases reported countrywide with Central Province having recorded 102 cases translating to 14% followed by Eastern Province with 89 cases translating to 12%.She pointed out that Southern Province had 48 cases translating to 7% and Copperbelt Province recorded 44 cases translating to 6% of all the reported defilement cases.“Others are North Western with 35 cases representing 05%, Luapula, 27 representing 04%, Western and Muchinga recorded 23 each representing 3% each, Northern had 20 representing 03%.118 rape and 21 attempted rape cases were recorded during the period under review. The country also recorded 36 cases of indecent Assault out of which 25 victims were women, 10 girls, and 01 boy. 28 cases of incest were recorded in which 14 were girls, 10 women while 04 were boys as victims,” she said.Under Physical Abuse, Ms Katongo said the country recorded 2,368 cases translating to 31 % of the reported cases of which 394 translating to 17% were males, 1,762 cases translating to 74% were females, 98 cases translating to 04% were girls and 114 cases translating to 05% were boys.Sadly, during the period under review 25 GBV related murder cases compared to 23 recorded in the third quarter, of 2019 were recorded.Under Economic Abuse, 452 cases of failing to Provide Necessities of Life and 351 cases of Neglecting to Provide Necessaries were recorded translating to 10.3% and 7.9% of reported cases respectively.“It has been observed that during the initial stage of COVID-19, victims of crime were hesitant to report GBV cases due to misinterpretation of some COVID-19 preventive measures such as the Social Distancing and Stay at home campaigns. The Zambia Police Service has been working closely with cooperating partners in providing support to victims of crime as part of the COVID-19 response and in ensuring that Victims of GBV continue accessing essential service from the institution,” she stated.The Chiefs and Traditional affairs minister has said that GBV and HIV can be prevented in communities through effective involvement of chiefs in the fight against practices that are driving the two vices.The Minister was speaking when he opened the Start Awareness Support Action (SASA) and Gender Based Violence Multidisciplinary Training for Traditional Leaders held at Nyamfinzi Hotel in Chipata.He commended Zambia Centre for Communication (ZCCP) for initiating the SASA training for traditional rulers as it would help them to get involved in the fight against GBV and other abuses.And ZCCP Deputy Chief of parte Doreen Manda commended Government for making concerted effort in the fight against GBV through its key line Ministries like the Ministry of Health, Zambia Police, Ministry of Community Development and Social Services and the Judiciary.Mr Sichalwe said government, particularly President Edgar Lungu, appreciates the investments ZCCP is making in building capacity of traditional leaders in the response to GBV using evidence based methodologies such as SASA.The Minister noted that in trying to strengthen response the SASA approach that ZCCP is implementing is encouraging traditional leaders to establish a village Anti-GBV Chiefdom Secretariat that will shorten the distance for survivors to access support for people out GBV services.“These methodologies aim at consolidating a critical mass of support for this movement to end these social vices but also improve coordination of GBV case management so that all perpetrators are held accountable while seeking justice for the survivors,” he said.Mr Sichalwe said President Lungu appreciates efforts that partners like the ZCCP are undertaking to involve traditional leaders in the fight against GBV.He said this is because the head of state believes GBV and HIV can be prevented in communities through traditional rulers that are taking a leading role in the fight.He further commended the traditional leaders in Eastern Province for their contribution in the fight against GBV.Mr Sichalwe also called for enhanced child protection at community level.“It is also important that communities have some safe guards for prevention of child abuse through establishment of committees such as child protection committees,” he said.Mr Sichalwe expects to see chiefs attending the training to increase knowledge regarding GBV identification, response and coordinated referral for GBV survivors to access quality and timely post GBV services.“Share more accurate and in depth understanding of formal procedures that are there to be followed when responding to GBV and increased awareness on HIV/GBV in all the communities through community sensitisations,” he said.He said in line with the year’s theme on the commemoration of 16 Days of Activism against GBV, “Orange The World: Fund, Respond, Prevent and Collect” his Ministry aims to prioritise the advancement of prevention and response to GBV at community level through increased coordination.“A community that tolerates GBV will affect the development of the whole nation as survivors of GBV may not realise the full potential and contribute to the development of the country,” he said.Mr Sichalwe observed that initiatives such as the one supported by ZCCP and many others are very important and need full government blessings.“I am looking forward to increased multi-disciplinary prevention and response to GBV and HIV at community levels just as the case at district level. I am hopeful that this training will contribute towards a critical mass of support of the human capital the country desperately needs in responding to HIV and GBV.
Indeed as Zambia joins the rest of the globe in commemorating the 16 Days of Activism against gender based violence it is hoped that more community leaders will play a part in eradicating the vice.