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Gender Based Violence 
When a child is the subject of any form of violence or abuse the effect on that child can be traumatic. The suffering, loss of self-respect and loss of faith in those around them may affect the child for the rest of his or her life as well as cause failure at school. Violence towards children and, in particular, violence and sexual abuse of girls is a worldwide problem, but in many parts of Africa it is even worse due to certain traditional beliefs and a limited access to support groups.
 
The Government of Zambia is doing what it can to ensure that the law is robust in its treatment of cases of violence and gender based abuse. In 2011 a land mark was reached in the enactment of the Gender Based Violence Act. Campaigns encourage people to report cases of violence and every major town and city has sections of the police trained to deal with gender based crimes. Between 2007 and 2010 the number of reported cases of defilement increased by 347% - from 696 to 2419 (CSO).
 
But defilement (intercourse with an underage child) often goes unreported. The abused child may fail to come out into the open because the defiler is often also their guardian. Sometimes, when a girls confides in a family member, the matter is ignored as the perpetrator is the only wage-earner in the family. Even when confronted a man may not be taken to the police as he will pay compensation to the family instead.
Abuse is often linked to traditional practices; for example it is widely believed that having sex with a minor will help a man’s business grow as the child grows. There is also a belief that sex with a virgin will cure HIV/Aids.
 
The statistics make shocking reading: 
• 47% of Zambian women have suffered physical violence since the age of 15; 77% by their husband. (ZDHS)
• 41% of Zambian women who had experienced physical or sexual violence did not report it or seek help. (ZDHS)
• 30% of surveyed girls aged 15 to 19 were pregnant or already caring for children and their pregnancies were often the result of sexual violence. (ZDHS)
 
Project Luangwa is keen to help girls who are the victims of abuse by securing them a good education, providing advice about the relevant organisations and departments that can help them and offering counselling and encouragement. These girls need to know that they are not being judged and that they can turn to someone for help, advice and support.

ZDHS - Zambia demographic and Health survey 2007; CSO - Central statistics Office

 
Read more . .
Click here for links to press reports and published studies on GBV. 
               
Gender
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Menstrual Hygiene Management 
               

 

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