The Paralegal Alliance Network (PAN) joins the women’s movement in observing Women’s Day under the theme, ‘Invest in women and girls: Accelerate Progress’. The alliance calls upon the Zambian government and all people of good will to utilise this day to reflect on the inadequacy of protection mechanisms for women and girls that come into contact with the justice system and also to strengthen human rights protection mechanisms that combat gender-based violence.

PAN is deeply concerned that cases of gender-based violence especially against women in Zambia have continued to soar despite the existence of anti-GBV legislation and measures. Cases of abuse against women in Zambia are nearly four times higher than those against men. The Police Service recorded 42,965 cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in 2023 out of which 30,021 were criminal cases, with 137 listed murder cases. 24,989 women, 7,574 men and 10, 402 children were reportedly abused out of which 8, 200 were criminal cases comprising 6,311 girls and 1,889 boys.

Furthermore, 68 women were murdered in GBV circumstances compared to 37 men, 20 boys and 12 girls. The alliance is also concerned on the high rate of withdrawal of cases of GBV by women especially the married ones, from prosecution. This is a reflection of the high dependence of women on men for economic survival. The situation of women inmates with circumstantial children in prisons and correctional facilities in Zambia needs urgent attention to ensure that their rights and those of their innocent children are not violated, following the directive of the President.

We propose that, the state establishes a fund to support women leaving prisons to avoid destitution and recidivism. This is critical in view of the high levels of stigma and discrimination that women leaving prisons face in the society. Government should take proactive steps to ensure that women leaving prisons access support under mainstream social and economic programmes such as grants and loans to women, supported under CDF and access to land under the department of resettlement in the Vice President’s office. This year’s theme reminds us of the importance of investing in women and girls by among other measures in education, science and technology. It is important that girls and women venture into tangible entrepreneurship and other economic activities.

Eugene Kabilika

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