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Rampant GBV, disheartens Caritas

CARITAS Zambia says it is disheartened by the continued high levels of violence against women and girls being recorded in an era when countries have female heads of states and women instituted in major powerful positions and portfolios worldwide.

Conflict Transformation and Peace Building (CTPB) programme project manager – child protection Matanga Munkonze said Zambia takes cognisant of the many challenges women and girls face which had in a long time negatively impacted on the lives and the general wellbeing of both women and girls.

Munkonze, in a message to mark the 16 days of gender activism, said Zambia takes cognisant of the many challenges women and girls face which have in a long time negatively impacted on the lives and the general wellbeing of both women and girls

The UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is an occasion for governments, international organisations and non-governmental organisations to raise public awareness of violence against women.

This day has been commemorated every November 25 each year since 2000. The 16 days of activism against gender-based violence run until 10 December – the International Human Rights Day.

This year’s theme is, ‘Orange the World: End Violence Against Women Now!’

Munkonze said violence against women and girls takes many forms and was widespread throughout the globe.

“On this International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, Caritas Zambia would like to challenge the new dawn government to harness the energy, ideas and leadership of young people to help in ending this pandemic of violence. Only then will we have a more just, peaceful and equitable world and be accountable to act now,” she said.

Munkonze said it was evident from the many studies that violence against women and the cruel mistreatment of girls especially through some harmful traditional practices which include child marriages among others were among some of the most seething vices which still plague developing countries like Zambia where cases of gender based violence against women and girls were still rampant.

She said this was evidenced from the third quarter Zambia Police report on Gender Based Violence and defilement where 4,042 cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) were reported countrywide.

Munkonze said the 2021 third quarter gender based violence disaggregated data indicates that 1,027 child victims were abused countrywide representing 25.4 per cent of all the victims of gender based violence.

“Out of the 1,027 children, 850 were girls representing 82.8 per cent while 177 were boys representing 17.2 per cent of all abused child victims respectively. 2,437 women and 578 men were abused countrywide representing 60.3 per cent and 14.3 per cent respectively. In addition, on sexual offences a total of 496 cases of child defilement translating to 72.4 per cent were recorded, of which 486 were girls and 10 were boys, representing 98 per cent and 2 per cent of all the reported defilement cases,” she said.

Munkonze said the report clearly shows that women and girls were more vulnerable to violence and the country should make concerted efforts to stop the surge.

“Caritas Zambia is disheartened on the continued high levels of violence against women and girls being recorded in an era when countries have female heads of states and also women instituted in major powerful positions and portfolios worldwide,” she said. “Caritas Zambia therefore note with displeasure that the horrific plight of the female is still this high and it is indeed a shame in this 21st century.”

Mukonze said it was evident that violence against women and girls was a universal challenge which was a product of unequal gender power relations and discrimination against women and girls, which was exacerbated by conflict and humanitarian crises which includes among other things; poverty, economic stress, harmful traditional practices, illiteracy and, at times, the harmful use of alcohol and or other drugs.

Munkonze also noted that some of the measures to contain COVID-19, such as restrictions in movement and staying at home increased exposure for those already in abusive relationships especially during the first and second wave of COVID-19.

She said “this further attributed to increase in abuse in those in marriages leading to high levels of divorce”.

Munkonze said this was evident from the divorce statistics report of 2020 where over 20,000 cases of divorce were recorded countrywide.

She said this has also been coupled with the increased burdens and stress from loss of livelihoods, combined with fewer opportunities for social contact with informal and formal networks and limited access to services and community support.

Munkonze said to eliminate violence against women and girls (victims/survivors) and to ensure they receive the required support and services, Caritas implores the government to strengthen the care and support services for the victims and survivors.

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