Families should take a lead role in curbing gender-based violence

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Lusaka, Zambia, 25 November 2017 (ECA) – The Zambian Government has urged families to take the lead role in curbing gender-based violence (GBV).

Minister of Gender, Victoria Kalima said the Church and traditional leaders should fully engage families to change the negative attitudes towards GBV at family level.

During the launch of the commemoration of this year's 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence themed “Leave no one Behind: End Gender Based Violence now” in Lusaka yesterday, Ms. Kalima regretted that violence which occurred between couples in homes was still tolerated among women in Zambia.

“There is no one reason or circumstance that should justify any form of violence between couples in Zambia or elsewhere in the world. This attitude is unacceptable. Violence is violence and must not be accepted in our society, including when it occurs within a marriage setup,” she emphasized.

Ms. Kalima said the Zambian Government is working with cooperating partners to set up fast track courts which would deal with cases of gender based violence across the country.

She noted that presently, two fast track courts had been established in Kabwe and Lusaka while another four were scheduled to be launched by the end of the year in Chipata, Livingstone, Mongu and Ndola.

In her statement, the acting United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Noal Skinner said the UN family in Zambia was proud to be a trusted partner, working with the Government and a wide range of stakeholders to respond to gender-based violence.

Ms. Skinner emphasized the need to build collective work in areas such as data collection, strengthening services for survivors of gender-based violence and strengthening women’s economic and political participation among others.

She said more than one in three women had experienced physical or sexual violence in their lives while 750 million women were married before the age of 18.

"Around 15 million adolescents aged 15 to 19 worldwide have experienced forced sex in their lifetime; 9 million of these girls victimized within the past year," she said.

Ms. Skinner noted that this year’s theme was about inclusivity which was central to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the recently launched Seventh National Development plan.

"The theme is an urgent call to all of us to come together to end GBV now and a recognition that certain groups, often those with the least power in our societies, are the most vulnerable; young girls and older women; migrants and refuges; indigenous women and minorities; women and girls living with HIV and disabilities as well as those in humanitarian crises,” Ms. Skinner said.

At the same event, Non-Governmental Organizations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) board chairperson, Sarah Longwe, said while gender-based violence affected both male and female, women and girls remained the most affected by the vice.

“Regrettably, many Zambian culture beliefs and norms strongly perpetuate GBV. For example, the Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS) of (2013/2014) found that a large majority of women (85 percent) and men (69 percent) believed that a husband is justified in beating his wife for at least one reason”, Ms. Longwe said.

A survivor of gender based violence, Musenge Musumali, urged fellow survivors to speak out and report perpetrators of such acts.

“I believe that all of us, together, can help break the silence around incest and sexual violence against women and girls and help transform lives of survivors," said Ms. Musumali.

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Economic Commission for Africa
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