Minister of Gender Elizabeth Phiri has warned of stern action against women who shield their husbands and partners in sexual and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) cases involving children.
According to a statement issued by Ministry of Gender Media Liaison Officer Mwape Mwenya, Tuesday, the Minister was reacting to the recent report of a 13-year-old girl who was allegedly defiled and impregnated by her step-father in Lusaka’s Mtendere Township.
Phiri said it was saddening that some women opt to protect marriages at the expense of their children being defiled and abused by either their husbands or intimate partners.
She observed that most defilement cases happened in homes by known family members, but added that it was unfortunate that such cases were only reported when a child was impregnated or infected with diseases.
“The increase in numbers can either be attributed to more people reporting cases or that the incidences are on the upswing and it is imperative that various stakeholders come together and study the matter,” Phiri said.
She said it was unlikely that a child could be undergoing emotional and physical trauma without being noticed by a mother who lived under the same roof.
And Phiri said an abused child could easily be noticed especially by a mother, but some women tend to keep quiet for fear of losing their partners and marriages.
She said the recent report by the Zambia Police on defilement, was heart breaking as 664 cases were recorded in the third quarter of 2018 compared to 416 in the third quarter last year.
Phiri urged communities to ensure that they reported sexually-related GBV cases as soon as they occurred to treat diseases in children early, should they occur.
She further called for concerted efforts from relevant stakeholders to interrogate the reasons behind the increase, so as to establish interventions to be implemented to fight sexually-related GBV cases.
Phiri urged the women movements to consider embarking on sensitising communities on how to identify perpetrators of sexual violence and report any suspicious persons to the police.
Meanwhile, Phiri on Monday retrieved the girl who was defiled from an abusive home and took her to the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) for treatment.
She further visited a 14 year old girl at UTH who was recently defiled and beaten by unknown criminals.
At least 6,114 cases of GBV cases were reported countrywide during the third quarter of 2018, indicating an increase of 1,018 cases from last year, according to police records.