As we participate in 16 days of activism to end violence against women, we note that our government is losing millions of kwacha through corporate tax breaks that could have been spent on making cities safer for women and girls. A report done by ActionAid –Freedom to move, shows how governments are failing to protect women from violence and harassment when making journeys around the city by failing to invest in street lighting, for example.
As an organisation that advocates for safe cities, we have spoken to young women in Lusaka who described how they are exposed to the threats of violence as they try to go about their daily life due to inadequate or poor street lighting, few if any public toilets and inadequate policing.
The Freedom to move report also reveals that the freedom to move safely around cities in most countries is restricted due to the planning and design of transport that ignores women’s needs while there is a negative culture that tolerates violence towards women.
“Women and girls either experience or face the threat of sexual and gender-based violence when in and moving around our cities. There is enough money available to help stop this. Women need to stand up for our right to move around our cities without fear of violence. We welcome the government’s commitment to fighting gender based violence including adopting the anti GBV Act which commits to working on way to prevent violence. We need to see this translated into more investment in public services that reflect the needs of women with financing from taxation such as “More corporate tax, well spent can make this happen”.
Not long ago, Zambia witnessed horrific instances including the brutalizing of a woman in public while people looked on and even filmed the incidence. In addition, the country has witnessed a sharp increase in media reports highlighting Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) which calls for a national reflection and places greater emphasis on the need for comprehensive responsive policies and legislation to tackle GBV. According to the 2016 third quarter statistics from the Zambia Police, a total of four thousand two hundred and thirty-five (4,235) cases of GBV were reported in Zambia,
44% of women and girls aged 15-49 having experienced violence since they were 15 years old. For young Zambian women, this is not the reality or a future they want – they have a right to a life free from violence.
“Violence cuts deeply into the liberties we should all have: the right to be safe at home, the rights to walk safely on the streets, the rights to go to school, to work, to the market among others.
The failure by government to raise enough tax revenue from big companies as also reflected in the latest budget statement undermines the efforts of government to reduce violence. Without sufficient funding central and local government does not have the resources to cover the costs of the safe transport or street lighting or policing that is needed. ActionAid believes that government must regulate subsidies or provide public transport, ensure laws and public campaigns to eliminate discrimination and violence against women and ensure that the additional revenue from closing tax gaps prioritises women’s unique needs and the services that uphold and protect women’s rights.
We would like to appeal to government to ensure that all women young and old can participate equally and meaningfully in all processes around designing, legislating and budgeting for city planning and public transport.
• In Zambia, the Ministry of Finance estimated that import duty exemptions alone in one year costed 388 million kwacha (2012, at current prices).
? In 2015, countries around the world signed up to the new sustainable development goals that commit to ending violence against women and girls by 2030. Zambia too has committed to end violence against women and girls, including through the anti-GBV act that was introduced in 2011.
Nalucha Nganga – Ziba