Andrew Mwale – Zambia

Andrew Mwale – Zambia

Date: June 30, 2015
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I know that my job is on the front lines of upholding human rights. I must work hand in hand with the community, if we want to move forward. I have a calling to assist people, particularly those who are vulnerable. In Katete, women and children are exposed to Gender Based Violence. This is a community problem, and as law enforcement, we need to be proactive. It’s much better for people to know about their rights, then for us to sit back and wait for someone to commit a crime.

Fighting GBV is an issue for the entire community, and it comes with so many challenges. Imagine that a woman has been battered. You can’t keep her in your own home; there are no places of safety. There are medical reports, and policing issues. Some things, like the doctor, takes money; but you can’t ask a woman to go back to the perpetrator for money. We need to connect with NGOs to link all the steps in the process.

GBV is a reality, but I’m driven by the knowledge that in the end, justice will prevail. Nobody is above the law. However, there is a thin line between customary and statutory law, and there are times when it’s not clear which one is in force. Because of misplaced cultural values some people say beating a woman is discipline. Others see the same situation as assault. There is no doubt that GBV is a crime, not a custom. Violence is unacceptable, that’s all there is to it.

When I was first introduced to Gender Links, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get to where we are today. Now, we are working in real partnerships with the community to educate people on the law, and see what we can due for survivors of GBV. Together we fight, and together we will win. Working with Gender Links has taught me the importance of working in true partnership with everyone in the community. I play my part, others also have a part to play. We support each other. That’s the only way to end Gender Based Violence. It is a big problem, with many causes.

Sometimes, I see why the police can get discouraged working against Gender Based Violence. The key is in prevention. When we are involved, it is often too late. This for me is a wake up call. It shows me that we need to be more proactive. We need to take additional steps, so that the people working on prevention, and the people working on other aspects of support are networked. Coming to the Gender Links summit has helped me to see how this works in other areas. It lets me step back, and look at the whole picture. There are economic elements. Cultural elements. Elements of attitude, and elements of action. Only when we bring together allt he pieces of the puzzle do we see real change happening. This helps me do my job better, and I think it also helps the people around me work better with me. When we understand each other, nothing is impossible.


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