Zambia Police Service Victim Support Unit (VSU) national coordinator senior superintendent Meamui Mubita says there is need for the police to instill confidence in the public to create an enabling environment for them to report cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV).

And Mubita says SGBV cases are under-reported despite a rise in the number by the police in the first and second quarters of 2019.

Speaking during the NGOCC SGBV indaba, Wednesday, Mubita lamented that there were still high levels of SGBV cases that went unreported because some victims were not willing to report to the police as the crimes usually happened within family circles.

“People ask that despite stiffening the punishment for sexual offenders, why is it then that…men are still defiling children? Of course, we have women, very few, statistically, who also defile boys as well. But why, then, are people continuing? It’s because it’s a hidden crime! Usually, they (perpetrators) think they can get away with it by the threats they issue to the children and the distortions in evidence. And, usually, sometimes it’s because of misinformation of the embarrassment brought about by these offences; people take long to disclose. So, as police, we need to continuously instill confidence in the public by creating an enabling environment…so that they are able to report without fear or shame,” Mubita said.

“We know even as police officers that GBV is under-reported for various reasons. You know that GBV usually occurs within families and usually when it occurs, people are not willing from the onset to report. Other people are willing to report, but others prefer to be compensated outside the criminal justice system. We know it usually happens in privacy and it’s a hidden crime.”

She bemoaned the high levels of withdrawn SGBV cases at police stations or courts of law due to lack of support structures for the victims.

“Fighting GBV can be a dilemma, it’s like you are trying to draw water in a washing basket, you are fighting and there are all these barriers, factors that make us at the end of the day just successfully prosecute only a few cases. Few victims are aware of their rights and how to seek legal redress. Court processes are known to be lengthy and procedures appear difficult and expensive! Some cases are not taken to court as a result of lack of evidence. Most cases are withdrawn at the police stations or courts of law due to lack of support structures to the victims, while others are withdrawn because they occur within the families,” said Mubita.

“Preliminary data shows we have 5,586 reported cases at the moment, this is after the second quarter of 2019. If you look at the data, the number of GBV cases is increasing at an alarming level in the country as can be seen from the reported cases captured in the statistics. The highest number of these reports is along the line of rail, which is why we are now moving away from that and trying to capture data from areas like Eastern and Western provinces of the country.”