By Chanda Katongo
Saturday, April 30, 2011
The latest Zambia Demographic and Health Survey revealed that not only is marital violence common here, but many wives also believe they deserve it. The Zambian parliament is discussing a bill to provide shelters for women and children fleeing abuse.
Several advocacy groups for women are doing what they can. There are radio programs, educational workshops, school discussions and support groups.
Amos Mwale, executive director of Youth Vision Zambia, a nongovernmental group offering sexual and reproductive health information and services to young people, says that anti-violence activities must be carried out continually.
"People in communities should be sensitized on gender-based violence so that they are aware of the various forms and effects," Mwale says.
Mwale adds that Youth Vision Zambia trains traditional counselors in gender matters, such as wife battery, and that the Zambian government and other nongovernmental organizations should, too.
"Traditional counselors from all parts of the country must be educated on gender-based violence because these people interact directly with young women who are about to get married and those who have reached adulthood," Mwale says.
Phiri, a counselor, agrees.
"I am calling upon our gender minister to work with traditional counselors in all parts of the country in order to reduce violence, such as wife battery," Phiri says.
Parliament is debating an anti-gender-based violence bill, which passed its second reading in February. The bill aims to provide shelters for girls and women fleeing abuse and protection orders for gender-based violence survivors, according to Sarah Sayifwanda, minister of gender and women in development.
The new law would be one step toward reducing the number of women who will be abused and think they deserve it.
"It is OK for him to beat me because I am unable to give him children," Chileshe says in between sobs.
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Chanda Katongo joined Global Press Institute in 2011. She is currently a fourth-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in communications at the University of Zambia.
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