[By Siabana Kelvin in Kasama]
THE European Union says the newly launched 25 million Euros anti-Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Natwampane project in Northern and Luapula provinces is aimed at reducing the scourge in Zambia.
European Union ambassador to Zambia Jacek Jankowski said the two provinces were faced with a high rate of SGBV cases in the country with the majority of the survivors being women and girls.
Ambassador Jankowski said reported SGBV cases were on the rise but were believed to be a drop in the ocean because most victims never file police reports and never seek assistance because of fear of discrimination and shame from the public.
He said the Zambian community too often seem to accept by turning a blind eye over SGBV issues.
He said now was the time for every stakeholder in the country to stop the vice.
“Together we can change our social, cultural norms and our mindsets so that we can protect and help the victims, so that we hold the perpetrators to account, because together we can make a difference,” ambassador Jankowski said.
He said the Natwampane project would make a difference in the lives of the people in the two provinces because it would enable victims to speak openly without fear or being embarrassed about SGBV issues.
Ambassador Jankowski urged Zambians to break the silence of SGBV by not shielding perpetrators of the vice.
He said the project was expected to change the beliefs, attitudes and practices about SGBV in Northern and Luapula province.
He said the project would enhance the policy framework, and multi-sectoral coordination.
Meanwhile, World Vision Zambia National Director John Hasse said SGBV had a negative impact on the economic and social development of the country.
Hasse said there was need to ensure that rural women and girls were healthy and productive.
“SGBV hinders personal development because the victims of the scourge have a low self-esteem as they think they cannot do anything in the world but when they come out openly exposing the perpetrators, they will free their minds and can become whoever they want to be in life,” he said.
The four-year Natwampane project is implemented by BBC Media Action, Norwegian Church Aid, World Vision Zambia, Lifeline/Child line Zambia, Zambia Episcopal Conference, Lusitu Chambers, Catholic Medical Mission Board, Women for Change, Sports in Action, Forum for African Women Educationalists of Zambia, Women and law in Southern Africa, Research and Educational Trust and many community based organisations.
And Senior Chieftainess Chungu said traditional leaders recognise that tackling social norms was a long process.
She said it was important that people in different communities, especially men and boys, were mobilised into discussions of power relations and SGBV.
She said traditional leaders were key in reducing SGBV cases in the country.
“As traditional leaders we acknowledge the need to transform traditional institutions and bylaws to prevent SGBV and power is at the heart of social norm change,” said chieftainess Chungu.