Gender Gender

Gender-based violence cases on increase

SPEAK OUT ON VIOLENCE with DOREEN NAWA
I WOULD like to take this opportunity to firstly thank Doris Kasote, the author of this column, for giving me this opportunity to take up her column while she is away for six weeks.
Doris is on annual leave and is expected to be back sometime in March.
Last Wednesday, the Zambia Police through the Victim Support Unit (VSU) released the 2016 Gender-Based Violence (GBV) statistics. I thought this would be a timely topic to kick off the column with and rightly so, considering what is currently happening in the country.
The report indicates that GBV is on the rise in Zambia with 18,540 cases recorded in 2016 compared to 18,088 in 2015, representing a 2.4 percent increase.
GBV is a human rights violation, a public health challenge, and a barrier to civic, social, political, and economic participation.
It undermines not only the safety, dignity, overall health status, and human rights of the millions of individuals who experience it, but also the public health, economic stability, and security of nations.
Gender-based violence cuts across ethnicity, race, class, religion, education level, and international borders.
An estimated one in three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in their lifetime.
Although statistics on the prevalence of violence vary, the scale is tremendous, the scope is vast, and the consequences for individuals, families, communities, and countries are devastating.
It is vital to promote the rights of all individuals and reduce gender-based violence, while mitigating its harmful effects on individuals and communities.
Unless women, girls, men, and boys fully enjoy their human rights and are free from violence, progress toward development will fall short.
Without undermining what has been done and is still being done in addressing this challenge, there is urgent need to increase awareness of the scope of the problem and its impact beginning from individuals, families, communities, and the country as a whole.
The need to improve services for survivors of violence and also strengthen prevention efforts are also vital components in releasing the dream of a GBV-free community and country.
Religion, customs and age-old prejudices have put Zambian women in a submissive and exploitable position in many domains of life.
Low rates of participation in education, lack of economic independence, value  biases  operating  against  them have  resulted  in  the  women  being  dependent on  men  folk  and  other  institutions  of authority like the family, neighborhood and the society.
Most women are usually ignorant of their rights and even if they are not, they do not have easy access to justice. The issues related to women are being raised and discussed in various fora, in the recent times.  Of these, ‘violence against women’ is gaining more and more support and recognition, the world over.
But despite the enactment of laws, formulation of reformative legal processes, provision of legal aid to the needy, extensive use of the courts in ensuring that those found guilty face the law, GBV cases have continued to be on the rise.
But just what has gone wrong or indeed what is not being done right to ensure that we start seeing a decrease in GBV cases in Zambia? For comments and contributions email: dnawa@daily-mail.co.zm/ or dorkel2005@yahoo.com



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