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Abused girl needs emotional, material support

THE story of the 16-year-old girl who was allegedly defiled repeatedly by her biological father while she was bed-ridden in the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka has left many Zambians shocked and angry.
If what the girl has narrated to the hospital staff and the media is true then the man should face the law.
The girl deserves justice.
It is difficult to understand how a father can take advantage of a child who is in a helpless situation.
We understand that the suspect is innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law.
However, we have every reason to call on the police and hospital authorities to ensure he does not come anywhere near the girl again until the case is disposed of.
What is even more worrying is that after the girl exposed the abuse she has allegedly suffered at the hands of her own father she has now been left to nurse herself.
Sources at Ward E02 have revealed that the girl is now on her own, but is sometimes receiving help from nurses.
Those who may have missed our stories on this matter may be interested in knowing that the girl’s mother is dead.
For two months she was too ill to do anything for herself and was unable to talk.
Her father was at her bedside to take care of her.
She has alleged that each time her father took her to the bathroom to bath her, usually in the middle of the night, he would sexually abuse her knowing that she would not be able to talk.
The girl says sometimes he would allegedly sleep with her under the hospital bed.
By the time she regained her ability to speak she had suffered immense physical and emotional pain.
Right now the girl is devastated, traumatised. She says her whole body is aching from the repeated abuse.
Hospital officials have said doctors are finding it difficult to attend to her because she has developed a fear of men.
Each time a male doctor tries to touch her she stiffens.
Clearly, the child is shattered, dehumanised and dejected.
What she has gone through is too much for her age. She is only 16.
What has baffled us, however, is the absence of any relative.
Surely the man and his daughter have relatives somewhere who should take an interest in what has been happening to her.
Wherever they may be we urge them to help this poor girl. She desperately needs them.
And the question we would like to ask the UTH management is: what kind of support is the girl receiving besides medical treatment considering what she has endured?
After going through such a horrifying experience the girl needs psychosocial support.
Such abuse requires quality psychotherapy, in the absence of which the girl may live with bitterness for the rest of her life.
Counselling will help heal her of that bitterness and strong desire to avenge her abuse.
If she is given only medical treatment for the illness for which she has been admitted to hospital without going through counselling she may develop a deep seated hatred for all men, which she will eventually extend to the entire society.
This is how perpetrators of gender-based violence are bred.
She needs help to recover from the trauma, although it is impossible to erase the scars.
We urge the UTH management to ensure the girl receives emotional healing through psychotherapy.
The hospital should also shift the patient to another ward because she has now become the object of curiosity because of the amount of attention her plight has received from the media.
But where are the non-governmental organisations that have been championing the human rights of the girl-child?
We expected them to strongly condemn such behaviour and mobilise the emotional and material support the child needs.