Traditional leaders want GBV fight in communities strengthened

WHILE in Chisamba during the week, I had an opportunity to chat with Senior Chiefs Puta of Chienge and Chiwala of Masaiti.
It was impressive to learn that as traditional leaders, they have been in the forefront to fight various vices including gender-based violence (GBV).
The chiefs noted the importance of changing the mind sets of their subjects if strides against GBV have to be made.
For Chief Puta like is the case with Chief Chiwala, they both have identified that alcohol abuse and high unemployment have contributed to cases of violence.
What measures have the traditional leaders put in place to mitigate this problem?
Chief Puta explains that zones in his chiefdom have been established which comprise of committees that work with village headmen to report such cases.
“Affected couples – that is both the abuser and the victim – are summoned before the traditional leader where both parties tell their side of the story,” he says.
However, there are cases where traditional leaders hand over some cases to police to resolve. The challenge also comes  when the victim who is usually the woman is reluctant to report the case to police.
Usually, what stands out in such cases is that both or the other partner has taken to the bottle which leads to a break down in family values.
He describes as unfortunate that some men still believe it is a sign of love to beat up a woman adding that what couples don’t realise is that beating up one’s spouse may lead to loss of life.
The traditional leader recollects a particular incident where a woman was beaten to death by her spouse but due to reluctance by witnesses to testify, the matter died a natural death.
“Once family values are weak, it is unfortunate that it affects the children with the girl children opting for early marriages in the hope of having a better life,” he said.
What the girl child does not realise is that they are actually jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
To Chief Puta, such parents are punished prompting the traditional leader to engage head teachers to take keen interest when a girl does not attend class and quickly report such a case to traditional leaders.
He can proudly say that with these measures, the school in his chiefdom has about 500 girl children as opposed to less than 50 in the past, “people must realise that consequences of GBV are far reaching”.
The story is no different from Chief Chiwala who has called on institutions mandated to monitor such vices to be more active.
He says those who brew illicit drinks should be heavily penalised because alcohol heavily contributes to a break down in family ties.
This has compelled him to form committees as well that monitor unwanted activities in his chiefdom.
It is important for society to realise that the consequences of GBV not only have a negative effect on the victim but the children as well which in turn impact on the development of the nation.
As society, we need to reflect on what GBV gives birth to and work together to put an end to it.
Until next week
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