SEXUAL violence against defenceless women including underage girls, is a misdemeanor which must reviled by all concerned and conscientious citizens.
This sexual assault incorporates acts that range from verbal pestering to forced penetration, and an array of types of coercion, from social pressure and bullying to physical force.
In Zambia women experience various forms of violence including battery, sexual abuse and exploitation, incest, defilement and rape.
This sexual violence against women may also take place when they are not able to give consent -for instance, while befuddled, drugged, asleep or mentally debilitated.
Our print and electronic media in Zambia are inundated with stories related to Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) which appear to be getting out hand by the day.
But perhaps what is mind-chilling is the sexual abuse against children which has become extremely complex in Zambia, as it remains a taboo and difficult to disclose in many settings.
Despite these challenges, it should be made clear that sexual abuse involving children is and will continue to occur in Zambia unless measures are taken to stop the vice.
What is probably most horrifying is the reported prevalence of sexual abuse involving minors as young as babies by someone other than intimate relatives, including parents and guardians who should act as protectors.
Unfortunately sexual violence, including sexual harassment, often occurs in institutions assumed to be ‘safe’, such as schools, where perpetrators include peers and teachers.
But the enigma becomes even more mystifying if those, especially the police who are supposed to stamp out the vice appear hesitant and cannot be bothered.
Yesterday the Sun published as story about four suspected Chongwe rapists who are at large due to sheer police inertia.
An organisation known as the Zambia National Men’s Network for Gender and Development (ZNMNGD) says it is sad over the failure by police to apprehend alleged defilers of a 14-year-old girl of Nchinchili Village in Chongwe district who was gang-raped by four men.
ZNMNGD national coordinator Nelson Banda said the incident happened recently as the young girl was on her way home from school but up to now, the culprits were at large.
Mr Banda said his greatest concern was that Chongwe police had not yet arrested the suspects, but had merely issued a callout because they had not transport to go and apprehend the perpetrators.
“As an organisation that champions the involvement of men and boys to end Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), we feel let down by the police’s failure to apprehend the suspects despite the matter having been reported to them.
“This is one of the reasons why victims feel discouraged to report cases to the police because they feel that nothing much will be done regarding their cases,” he said.
He called on the Ministry of Home Affairs to equip the police with adequate transport especially the Victim Support Unit to enable them follow up SGBV cases particularly in rural areas where communities find it hard to reach the police because of long distances.
Mr Banda said it was depressing to note that statistics released by the Zambia Police Service on SGBV for the third quarter of 2019 indicated an increase in the vice as a total of 6, 788 cases were recorded in four months as opposed to 6,110 recorded in the previous quarter.
He observed that out of the latest figures more than 700 girls were defiled in that period, literally translating to about six defilement cases recorded every day.
Mr Banda said the organisation would be holding the first-ever men’s conference against Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) during this year’s 16 Days of activism in Chongwe district.
“The one-day conference to be held place at Mwashinango Village, targets to reach out to more than 100 men and boys who will include headmen, the area Member of Parliament, religious leaders, teachers, youth groups, the media, the neighbourhood watch association and peasant farmers.
Therefore, the war against sexual violence in Zambia will require cooperation from diverse sectors, including education, health, welfare and criminal justice, including the Church.
We also believe that apart from that, prevention should start early in life, by educating and working with young boys and girls encouraging dutiful relationships and gender equality.