Zambia National Men’s Network for Gender and Development (ZNMNGD) national coordinator Nelson Banda says it is shocked and saddened with the over 35,000 child pregnancies recorded in the last six months in Eastern Province.

In a statement, Banda stated that it was more saddening to realize that the child pregnancies were actually defilement cases.

“As an organization that works with men and boys to end sexual and gender violence on women and girls, we are extremely worried that underage girls in Eastern Province and elsewhere have continued to suffer sexual abuse at the hands of heartless men leading to more than 35,000 of the young girls falling pregnant,” Banda stated.

“Although the 2019 figure shows a reduction by 9,000 cases compared to what was recorded last year, this situation cannot be allowed to continue as it is an infringement on the young girls’ rights to the full realization of their potential and pose a huge maternal and health risk of contracting sexually-transmitted infections.”

He stated that authorities in Eastern Province should step up measures in ensuring child pregnancies were fully stopped.

“We call on authorities in Eastern Province and other institutions tasked with the responsibility of looking after the well-being of the girl-child to follow-up these defilement cases and ensure the violators of the girls’ rights are brought to book to account for their criminal acts,” he urged.

“Issuing these appalling statistics is a good thing, but we strongly feel that tracing and dealing with the perpetrators is critical and is a major step towards addressing defilement and child pregnancies that the country continues to grapple with. The men responsible should not be left scot-free if we are to change the sad-obtaining scenario in Eastern Province and win the fight against defilement and child pregnancies. We must continue to condemn and take a strong stand against defilement through practical measures by brining to account the 35,000 defilers in Eastern Province.”

Banda added that traditional leaders should work with other stakeholders in ending this vice.

“We would like to send a strong message to other men in the area and across the country who could be thinking or planning of doing the same that they risk being prosecuted. As the Zambia National Men’s Network for Gender and Development (ZNMNGD), we have in line with our new Strategic Plan 2019 to 2022 prioritized strengthening partnerships with like-minded civil society organizations (CSOs) to forge a sustained sensitization campaign against defilement, child pregnancies, rape, early marriages and other sexual gender based violence as this is the only sure way we will be able to overcome,” stated Banda.

“We wish to strongly urge the traditional leadership, parents, churches, schools and civil society groups in Eastern Province to double up their efforts in addressing what we call the child pregnancies scourge using their wide reach and influence in society and communities.”