Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP) President Sean Tembo has expressed dismay over the statement from the Minister of Community Development Doreen Mwamba that the government has decided to maintain custody of the 13 kidnapped girls after their release from hospital, and that the Ministry had since put them in a shelter.
Mr Tembo noted that this makes a very sad reading as these rescued girls are not orphans but belong to families and should be reunited with their respective relatives so that they can begin the process of psychological and physical healing from the sexual abuse that they were subjected to by their kidnappers.
“If the New Dwan Government was sincere in this matter, why didn’t they give each of the 13 girls an option of whether to go home to their families or be kept in a government shelter like orphans? Why did the UPND decide to railroad all the 13 girls into a shelter against their wishes? Why has the UPND Government decided to cut all communication between the 13 girls and the outside world?” Mr Tembo questioned
Mr Tembo explained that the definition of kidnapping is holding someone against their will, and in this instance, it can safely be said that the UPND government has kidnapped the 13 girls for the second time.
“Why is the UPND Government afraid of allowing these 13 girls to go home and tell their stories? Are they afraid that the girls might implicate someone important in the Government, hence their second kidnapping? Where are the civil society organizations which are supposed to fight for the rights of the vulnerable in our community?” Mr Tembo mentioned
Mr Tembo said that, his message to President Hakainde Hichilema is please Mr President, do not kidnap these girls for the second time, let them go home to their families, from a psychological point of view, the shelter you have put these girls in will soon start resembling the kidnappers house in which they lived in for more than 6 months and before you realize it, cases of suicide might be found among the girls due to a psychological breakdown.
“Please sir, release the girls from this unlawful detention by the government, they have already gone through enough. Stop it now sir,” Mr Tembo exclaimed
On 8th October, 2022, the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services announced in a statement that it has taken over the welfare of the 13 survivors of abduction following the completion of their medical examinations.
Minister of Community Development and Social Services Doreen Mwamba, stated that the Ministry through the Department of Social Welfare has provided a Place of Safety as mandated in the provisions of the Anti-Gender Based Violence Act No.1 of 2011 and Anti- Human Trafficking Act No. 11 of 2008.
Ms Mwamba noted that the young ladies are currently in good spirit after undergoing medical checkups to ascertain their health statuses and establish the extent of their sexual exploitation and abuse.
She, however, stated that the traumatic experience of the abductions caused huge psychological effects on the mental health of the survivors adding that there is need to subject the young ladies to trauma and psychosocial therapy in a Place of Safety as part of the healing process.
“The Case Management processes which will be carried out by the social workers from the Ministry alongside other professional psychologists from Chainama Hospital, will focus on psychological wellness and general welfare on a case-by-case basis,” she explained.
Ms Mwamba noted that the families of the survivors have been informed of the planned interventions by government and has requested the families to give government more time to take care of the survivors before they are eventually reintegrated into their families.
“Those who travelled from other towns outside Lusaka to see their daughters will be provided with support by the Ministry through the Lusaka District Social Welfare Office until the survivors are discharged from the Place of Safety. The families will also undergo counselling to ensure that they are in a good state of mind to provide care and support to their daughters,” she added.
Ms Mwamba disclosed that the ministry is working closely with the gender division as well as Non-Governmental Organisations to ensure that all supplies are provided to the survivors in order to safeguard their stay in the Place of Safety.
“Criminal investigations by Zambia Police have continued to ensure the culprits are brought to book,” she said
Ms Mwamba has since appealed to the media and the general public to desist from uploading publications about the identity or personal information of the survivors to avoid further victimization and traumatization of the young ladies