THE Zambia Civic Education Association says the sentencing of Brenda Tembo for brutally assaulting her 13-year-old niece is a strong signal to like minded parents or guardians who think that children under their care are their property to do as they want with them.
ZCEA executive director Judith Mulenga said the conviction and sentencing of Brenda Tembo for brutally assaulting her niece was a landmark case that should be celebrated by all child rights advocates.
She said ZCEA had welcomed this conviction and sentence as it would serve as a deterrent to the violence that children suffered in silence in their homes even though the laws protected them against such violence.
“Magistrate Malumani should be commended for standing for the protection of the vulnerable in society. He should also be commended for driving home the doctrine of equality before the law. If adults are protected against assault, children are also protected against the same in equal measure,” Mulenga said.
She said the supreme law of the land, the Constitution in Article 15, protects everyone including children, elderly or differently abled people against being subjected to torture or cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment and “yet such vulnerable persons are subjected to these ill treatment and outright abuses with impunity on a daily basis by those that are supposed to care for them”.
“Equally, the Penal Code Chapter 24 does protect children, other vulnerable persons in our society and indeed everyone from any form of assault and yet the mind set of us Zambians is that the law applies to adult to adult violence and not adult to child violence. Therefore this invocation of the assault law to punish Mrs Tembo for her cruel, in humane degrading treatment and punishment of her helpless orphaned niece is a strong signal to like minded parents or guardians who think that children under their care are their property to do as they want with them in the same manner as the slave owners treated their slaves,” Mulenga said.
She said the 2006 UN Global Study on Violence against Children revealed the glaring extent of violence against children throughout the world and made a strong overarching observation that, no violence against children is justifiable; all violence against children is preventable therefore there should be no more excuses.
“The study’s revelation horrified a former Chairperson of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child to remark in shock that thousands of homes have become real laboratories of violence against children! 12 years on after the study daily we read and hear about children being killed or maimed or living with violence in the guise of disciplining them and society sees but turns a blind eye conveniently making violence against children acceptable in society and outside the national agenda,” Mulenga said. “Even the Anti Gender Based fight wears the face of an adult female instead of everyone including children. Justifications, including religious arguments, abound about treating children less human than we would like to be treated. The late African Statesman Mr. Nelson Mandela stated that there can be no keener revelation of a societys soul than the way it treats its children, and Magistrate Malumani has unequivocally demonstrated that in this society the law will protect children and the best interest of the child in a court room will override other interests.”
She said ZCEA would use the case against Brendah for their advocacy and hoped all types of media would carry the story widely to send a message to parents or guardians or anyone who thought children were less human that the state would exercise its parens patriae, the role of legal protector of persons unable to protect themselves, and step in as it had done.
Mulenga also applauded the victim for speaking out and her teacher for bringing the issue out despite the reprehensible efforts by the head teacher to suppress the violence.