Vice President W.K.Mutale Nalumango says government is concerned with the high gender inequalities and the high number of cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the country.
Mrs Nalumango said GBV cases especially those against women and girls are of a great concern to the government.
Speaking when she officiated at the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence commemoration in Lusaka today, the Vice President said reported cases of GBV cases against women and girls are on an increase in the country.
She said according to Lifeline Childline Zambia, the demand for toll free services on line 116 and 933 increased since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic from the monthly average of twelve thousand calls to forty thousand calls.
“Also statistics available indicate that GBV cases especially against women and girl children as reported by the Victim Support Unit and other stakeholders are increasing. In 2020, 26, 370 cases of GBV were reported to the Victim support Unit of the Police service. Of these, 14, 875 were women, 5,080 were men, 4, 866 were girls and 1, 549 were boys,” she explained.
Mrs Nalumango further explained that compared to the statistics of 2020, 25, 125 cases of GBV were recorded in 2019 showing an increase of 1, 245 GBV cases.
She noted that the coming of COVID-19 has made the fight against GBV difficult as people were confined in their homes.
The Vice President said that it is disheartening that cases of defilement of children and child marriage have continued to surface in communities.
She such vices are heinous crimes and harmful practices on the wellbeing of children which must be stopped immediately.
The Vice President appealed to traditional leaders to engage with their subjects in ensuring that social norms and beliefs that drive the victims are curbed immediately.
Mrs Nalumango She further commended some traditional leaders who have already taken measures to curb the vice and reaffirmed government’s commitment to the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
She disclosed that government will focus on empowering vulnerable citizens namely women, girls and persons with disabilities through increase access to education, land, business opportunities, meaningful employment and participation in governance.
The Vice President assured that government will continue to uphold and strengthen mitigation measures to minimize the impact of GBV on the survivors through such interventions.
Mrs Nalumango stated that this can be achieved by strengthening the operations on one Stop Centers, building shelters for victims of GBV, establishment of Fast Track courts on GBV and ensuring that there is an enabling policy and legislation as requested for.
She said her office is aware of the challenges of providing services to victims of GBV faced at village level.
“People in rural areas still have to walk long distances to access anti GBV services. As a result, some survivors give up and end up not receiving the services at all. They end up living with the physical and psychological scars of GBV for the rest of their lives,” she said.
She called on government institutions and non-governmental organizations responsible for GBV issues to ensure that Anti GBV services are brought closer to the people.
Mrs Nalumango further disclosed that government in partnership with its cooperating partners is implementing projects that are delivering interventions to prevent and respond to GBV across the country.
And the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) country Representative Gift Malunga said the UN acknowledges the Zambian government’s ongoing efforts of ending GBV.
Ms Malunga said the efforts by the government and its partners is a clear demonstration of the privatization of the Health and Development of women and girls.
She said it is unfortunate the women and girls are still victimized in most parts of the world adding that four out of ten women have experienced physical violence in their life time.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Commission Director, Florence Chibwesha when giving the vote of thanks said this year’s theme is intended to summon people’s collective conscious and practical steps towards protecting the rights of women and girls.
Ms Chibwela said the commission welcomes and commends the call by the Vice President to various stakeholders and traditional leaders to scale up the efforts aimed at eradicating cultural norms and practices against women and girls.
She thanked the Vice President for commemorating at the event saying it shows commitment by government in the fight against GBV.
This years 16 days of Activism Against Gender Based violence was commemorated under the theme, “Orange the World, End Violence against Women and Girls Now!”