British High Commissioner urges Zambian MPs to tackle GBV

By British High Commission Lusaka

“I am delighted to be here today on behalf of the UK government and its Department for International Development (DFID) to join Zambia in its efforts to eliminate gender based violence and child marriage. And I would like to thank the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Clerk for enabling this event to happen.

“Globally if you are a woman aged between 15 and 45 years you are more likely to be maimed and die from male violence than from malaria, cancer, traffic accidents and war combined.

“Such violence is used to intimidate, humiliate and discredit women and to force them into a silent, second-class citizenship.

“The statistics on violence against women and girls are shocking!

“Globally 1 in 3 women is beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime. Usually, the abuser is a member of her own family or someone she knows. And up to half of sexual assaults are committed against girls under 16. In Zambia, almost half of women aged 15 to 49 years have experienced physical violence. Homes should be places of refuge and safety. For too many women in our societies, the UK included, our homes are places of hidden suffering. (between 1 and 1.3 million women in UK suffer domestic violence each year)

“None of us here today wants gender based violence to remain hidden. So we are committed together to support the victims of gender based violence and turn them into survivors. And we are committed to stopping gender based violence in the first place. This is why creating the right enabling environment is so important.

“In recent years Zambia has demonstrated its strong commitment to addressing gender inequalities in the country. The UK Government is particularly delighted that Zambia has taken a strong lead in the fight against gender based violence with the implementation of the Anti GBV Act, its leadership on child marriage, which is a form of GBV as well as support to the drafting of a Marriage Bill which will make it illegal for children to marry. Zambia is indeed to be congratulated in being the first African country to establish Fast Track Courts for GBV cases.

“However, there is still more that must be done:

We need to protect survivors of GBV and to this end, Zambia urgently needs to fulfil its commitments to increasing the number of shelters and safe houses available.

We need to learn early lessons from the establishment of the Fast Track Courts and ensure that these courts are more widely available to survivors across the country.

All stakeholders involved (government, civil society and CPs) need to strengthen efforts for greater coordination around GBV — we need to work better together in order to maximise efforts and increase access to services for GBV survivors.

Finally, we need to challenge attitudes and practices which which have stopped too many girls and women having a voice and control over their own lives.

“As the USAID Mission Director pointed out, your role as MPs is critical in trying to effectively grapple with these important issues. We stand ready to support you and our partners in your efforts.

“Thank you.”