17 November 2012

Zambia: Let's Intensify War Against Gender-Based Violence

THE Church in Zambia is in order to raise alarm at the increasing number of gender-based violence (GBV) cases the country continues to witness.

In fact, as part of society, the Church has equally its own role to play in the fight against GBV.

GBV, especially against women, is a persistent problem taking place in every Zambian culture and social grouping.

Women's groups usually refer to violence against women as the most pervasive, yet least recognised human rights abuse not only in Zambia but the world over.

The violence is called "gender-based" because it partly stems from women's seemingly subordinate status in our various societies.

In traditional societies, for instance, a woman has generally been regarded as being inferior to man, and this has been a long-standing norm.

Some people even come to justify this view by quoting a certain scripture in the Bible where the Creator refers to a woman as a man's helper.

The noble biblical saying has, however, grossly been misinterpreted as it has now become synonymous with jeopardising women's lives, their bodies, as well as their psychological integrity and freedoms.

But as the mistreatment of our womenfolk continues to manifest in many ways, it reaches a point where it becomes a health risk for these human beings.

It is true, and various surveys have shown, that at least one in every three women has been beaten up by a partner, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime in one way or another.

This abuse of the woman is mainly at the hands of someone she knows well, who must either be a member of her own family or a leader at her workplace or even a co-worker.

In marriages, we have seen and heard of so many men who have battered their spouses, leaving some people to wonder whether true love exists in such unions displaying such levels of violence.

Of course there are cases where men have equally fallen victims of GBV. However, it has been difficult to get statistics on battered men because the males do not usually come out to complain about being abused by their wives or partners.

We are witnessing what the three Church mother bodies say the increasing number of ritual practices being perpetrated in some parts of the country, especially those targeting the womenfolk.

Even when the Ruth Mbandu case has not been disposed of, passersby this week picked up a body of a lady murdered and dumped in the infamous Misisi Dam.

All these cases obviously justify the concern raised yesterday by the three Church mother bodies - Council of Churches in Zambia, Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia and Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC).

We support the call on all Zambians to promote a culture of prayer against the widespread incidences of gender-based violence in the country.

As ZEC secretary general Cleophas Lungu said, there is need for all members of the community, the Church, police and civil society organisations to join hands with the Government in fighting this monster called GBV.

Knowing well that GBV exists everywhere, we also back the Church's view that people promote peace first in their homes by addressing all forms of GBV.

That way, we stand a chance of promoting peace in the wider society and, consequently, curbing GBV.

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