KITWE High Court Judge Abha Patel says the escalating number of domestic disputes and defilement cases before the courts of law are a source of concern, especially that they mostly involve women and children.

Judge Patel was speaking during the opening of the Kitwe criminal court session for 2021.

Judge Patel said in a country that prides itself as a Christian nation, crimes such as rape, defilement and gender based violence are not supposed to be rife because church leaders were expected to take a leading role in fighting such vices.

“In 2020, cases of defilement, indecent assault, GBV and rape were more, this is where we believe that the society, community leaders and church leaders can all play a part in awareness campaigns to sensitise the community we live in and we are working in. As a judiciary and as sitting judges, we are saddened to note the rising crime against women and young girls. A Christian nation such as ours should be in the forefront of sensitizing our people to desist from such acts against the weaker and more vulnerable in the society. Together, we need to protect the girl child so that she is safe from her father and even her grandfather,” Judge Patel said.

And Judge Patel appealed to members of the public to assist in preventing crime.

“The fight against crime in our society should not be left only to the judicial system but to all available societal means so that incidences of unruly behaviour leading to crime are reduced. We have, however, seen a reduction in crime such as aggravated robbery and theft. These have decreased and we have been left to wonder if it is due to the COVID-19 or the strict or toughness of sentences by magistrates and judges which has been a deterrent,”said Judge Patel.

And Kitwe judge in charge Charles Chanda said government should consider assisting the courts with protective kits that can be used whilst delivering justice to the community.

Judge Chanda said judges were also front liners in the COVID-19 pandemic as courts could never be closed if justice was to be delivered on time.

“You need to help us also with PPE. We need a lot of them because we are also front liners in this COVID-19 [era] so we are appealing to the government to consider us.”