Thursday, October 11, 2012

Be a good neighbour, stop GBV


At only 12, the life of Brilliant Muyuwa was brought to an abrupt and brutal end when she was defiled and strangled early this year.

Brilliant's death made headlines in the media and also attracted the attention of high profile people like First lady Dr Christine Kaseba, who travelled to Masupelo village in Chibombo to attend her funeral.

Since then Chibombo has remained in the spotlight and many more cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) have surfaced. However, civil society organisations are keen to see a reduction and eradication of GBV cases in the area.

Recently, the Zambia Social Forum (ZAMSOF) and its partners; Alliance for Community Action on HIV and AIDS in Zambia (Alliance Zambia), Action Aid, Sight Savers and Oxfam in Zambia held a National Forum aimed at making known the new Anti- Gender Based Violence Act  and raising awareness on GBV to people in Chibombo and neighbouring areas.

ZAMSOF is a network of civil society organisations which is part of the World Social Forum of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), an open space for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, free exchange of experiences and interests for effective action.

The national forum was flagged off with a march past led by the vice-presidents wife, Charlotte Scott, ministers spouses, representatives from the first lady’s office, members from various civil society organisations and community members. It was held under the theme ‘Gender Based Violence, Child Rights and Abuses.’

Issues on the agenda included, HIV & AIDS, maternal neonatal, children health and voluntary medical male circumcision, climate and environment, youth and labour, governance, human rights, including the right to land and women’s rights.

Mrs Scott said it was impossible to achieve any meaningful development amid a society which experiences injustice and violation of human rights due to GBV

“More police posts should therefore be equipped with facilities to ensure this is a reality. Distance should not be a barrier to the course of justice and recourse in our communities so that women and children are adequately protected. As Zambia celebrates its 49th year of independence, the commemorations need to move the country to another level of social justice and wellbeing should lead to reduced GBV cases,” said Mrs Scott.

For children who are victims of abuse and violence, which includes witnessing violence that is inflicted on other members of the household, this affects their mental, physical, and emotional development. It also affects their capacity to realise their aspirations and contribute to the development of the country.

Mrs Scott added that, “We know the role that women play in the country, not only in social but also economic development and if we are taking the people who are leading that process and we put them into lives of anxiety, of fear, of pain, of rights abuse then the country can’t go anywhere.”

Recent statistics from the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) indicate that cases of GBV are still on the upswing. About 3, 733 cases were reported between January and June 2012.

NGOCC Executive Director, Engwase Mwale noted that “It is an undeniable fact that GBV reinforces the inequalities and iniquities between women and men and therefore compromises, not just the health of the victims, but also the dignity, the security and autonomy of the victims.”

She said because women and children had continued to be victims of brutal killings, rape, defilement, incest and other forms of abuse, the fight against the vice needed commitment and concerted efforts from different stakeholders if Zambia was to see a reduction in such cases.

“We are here (Chibombo) to be able to commit to work with the traditional leaders that their voice is important to end the negative cultural practices if we are to win the fight against GBV. And as a women’s movement, we are requesting the traditional leadership to ban early marriages in their chiefdoms. Early marriages have repurcations on the girl-children because it keeps them away from schooling,” pleaded Mwale.

She called on government to allocate adequate resources in the 2013 national budget so as to address the issue of shelter for survivors of GBV and also resources that will go towards putting together a gender based violence fund that will cushion the survivors of GBV.

And Alliance for Community Action on HIV and AIDS in Zambia (Alliance Zambia) Policy and Advocacy Manager, Reverand Malawo Matyola directly called on women not to live in fear but report cases of Gender Based Violence to relevant authorities.

Charlotte Scott folds the Maternal and Child Health Poster presented to her by Alliance for Community Action on HIV and AIDS in Zambia (Alliance Zambia) Policy and Advocacy Manager, Reverand Malawo Matyola, as ZAMSOF chairperson, Mary Tembo-Mhango looks on/Picture by Nkandu Chikonde from Alliance Zambia

“In our African setting, your neighbour’s child is yours too. Because that is your child too, if you notice that child is showing signs of abuse, it is your duty to report the case to authorities and if possible take the victim to the hospital,” Matyola advised.

However, he also urged health workers to be tolerant and patient with victims of GBV.

Matyola condemned an incidence where a young girl was harassed by police on her way to the hospital to collect Ante-retro viral drugs (ARVs) when she was accused of promiscuity.

“Because of the long distance to the centre, this young girl started off to the clinic as early as 04:00 but was stopped by police who accused her of being promiscuous. Such situations should not be allowed to happen. The girls’ only response was ‘I wish I was the causer of this disease, but I was born with it.’ Colleagues in the police force and clinics, let’s be friendly and render the help these victims need,” he added.

Recognising the importance for Civil Society to address GBV, Child Rights and abuses in communities, Alliance Zambia places great importance on the rights of pregnant women and children under the age of 5, to ensure they are not abused.

With support from Save the Children Sweden (SCS) the organisation is currently contributing to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5; to reduce mortality and morbidity rates for children under five years old in Zambia by 2014 by two thirds and to promote safe motherhood and improve maternal health in Zambia by 2014 and reduce maternal mortality by three quarters respectively. This project is being implemented in Mungule (Chibombo) and Mandevu (Lusaka) through close collaboration with the healthcentres in the respective sites.

In Zambia, cases of mothers miscarrying due to GBV and others who die while pregnant due to the same vice are common.

The National forum which was organised by Zambia Social Forum, under the secretariat of NGOCC, Women for Change (WfC) and Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) also provided eye screening checkups, Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) and testing, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), Male Medical Circumcision and information on Economic Empowerment.

ZAMSOF has been successfully organizing the annual National Social fora in towns and communities of Lusaka, Choma, Kapiri-Mposhi, Monze, Mansa and Chipata since 2003.

One of its many objectives includes improving participation of the general citizenry in the policy making processes of the area Members of Parliament by ensuring those peoples’ voices are registered at the national, regional and continental levels.

“Our mission is to promote and facilitate sustainable, socio-economic Development through collaboration and networking among NGOs, Community Based Organisations (CBO’s) and other stakeholders,” explained ZAMSOF chairperson, Mary-Tembo Mhango. PYM


Stephen Kangwa Chilobwa said...

Meluse Kapatamoyo Continue the great work your are doing enlightening and initiating discussion. You see No form of violence is justifiable and people need to be brought to book for their actions. If we wait every violence that happens is a potential mortality. keeping Silent and I would feel like an accessory to the violence. Gender-based violence in rural communities rates are similar to other settings. There should be no doubt, gender-based violence in its many forms—physical, emotional, and sexual—occurs among women living in rural communities at rates similar to women in all other settings.
GBV programs typically have urban bias. There is a pervasive public opinion that gender-based violence is primarily an urban problem. Models for programs to address gender-based violence are often based on those from urban areas. Consequently it is often more difficult to get popular support and funding for programs in rural areas, and the information and technical assistance that is available may not be as applicable to rural areas.
Broad economic changes such as the growing service, technology sectors, shrinking agricultural and manufacturing sectors have greatly impacted rural areas. Also, some general attitudes and belief systems that are somewhat more pervasive in rural communities can impact the options battered women and their children have. The following topics may be worth researching
Rural communities (Country vs. City; Serenity and Safety vs. Violence):
• Reliance on extended family, small community, and places of worship
• Intensified isolation
• Lack of anonymity
• Accessibility issues
Some characteristics of rural communities may complicate the lives of battered women and their children as they seek support or attempt to leave an abusive situation
• Limited mobility or capacity to relocate; limited number of options of places to which relocation is even possible
• The family and the community are self-contained, self-sufficient entities, usually needing and desiring little outside help
• Strong communal identity
• Role of religion and tradition
• Institutions
• Limited access to broad range of goods and services
• In rural areas, jobs are hard to find for women to support themselves.
• In order to work for independent subsistence, women depend on sufficient childcare facilities, which are often missing in rural areas.

Their is serious need to address GBV in rural areas. But note that in the urban areas, the educated and elite are experiencing GBV and are keeping silent all for keeping face its really a shame. Lets stop GBV

Stephen Kangwa Chilobwa
Regional Coordinator Southern Province

Meluse Kapatamoyo said...

Thank you so much for sharing Mr Chilobwa and please keep me updated on any issues surrounding GBV in your catchment areas.