Friday, 28 December 2012

Women in Zambia Refuse to Report Spousal Abuse Due to Their Economic Dependence on Their Husbands.

A few months ago I set up a Gender Based Violence Corner at Kamwala Health Center to assist victims of gender based violence, provide them with counseling services and refer them to organizations that can assist them.

Having been a victim of physical spousal abuse in the past, I use my past experiences to connect with victims of gender based violence. I have dedicated myself to being a window of hope for women and children in my community who are traumatized by their experiences.

In the few months that I have been running the GBV Corner at Kamwala Clinic, I have discovered that a lot of young women and girls in Zambia do not report perpetrators of gender based violence because they are economically dependent on the men/people who inflict that violence upon them.

One lady that came to the GBV Corner one morning, Rebecca, from a nearby Township within Lusaka, approached me with a four months old baby and narrated that two months ago, in the middle of a fight with her husband, he had deliberately lifted the baby and dropped her to the floor. The baby’s spine was then fractured and the baby’s brain was damaged, meaning the baby is never going to live a normal life.

When Rebecca came to the clinic, she could hardly walk as she had stabs all over her body. Her husband had just used a screw driver to stab her repeatedly.

After counseling Rebecca, she agreed to report her husband to the police.

But as soon as Rebecca saw the police she changed her mind and refused to testify against her husband. Despite numerous efforts to counsel her, Rebecca refused to report her husband and cited her financial dependence on him as reasons for not wanting to report him.

Rebecca explained that if she reported her husband and he got arrested, there would be no one to look after her and her three children.

I felt very helpless at this moment because without Rebecca’s’ cooperation, it was difficult to render any help to her despite knowing that she was going through both physical and emotional abuse.

Alot of women in Zambia, like Rebecca do not report cases of gender based violence due to their economic dependence and financial insecurity.

On a sad note, after being discharged from the clinic, Rebecca returned to her abusive husbandL.
By Mwanga Simwanda.


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