Zambia: Anti-gender Based Violence Act passed

Date: October 7, 2011
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The Anti Gender Based Violence Act (2011), signed off by Zambian President Rupiah Banda in April 2011 is a major step forward in the fight against gender based violence (GBV) in Zambia. One of the most comprehensive laws on GBV in SADC, the Act gives hope to many women and children who have been subjected to GBV without adequate recourse. It offers a comprehensive framework for protection and means of survival for victims and survivors of GBV as well as prosecution of perpetrators.

Gender-based violence continues to be a problem in Zambia with the number of reported cases on the rise. According to figures, one in five women has experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives. Of all the forms of violence, spousal abuse or domestic violence was the highest form of abuse reported. If implemented by the government agencies and other role players, this will contribute to reducing levels of gender based violence.

The Act comes after more than ten years of advocacy for a comprehensive and effective piece of legislation and has been received well by all sections of Zambian society and particularly women’s organisations. The years of ground work have paid off because unlike other SADC countries that have specific domestic violence Acts, Zambia has an anti-gender based violence law which is more far reaching and comprehensive.

The Act takes its inspiration from the gender based violence provisions of Articles 20 – 25 of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development which calls on States to enact and enforce legislation prohibiting all forms of GBV; discourage traditional norms including social, economic, cultural and political practices; public awareness programmes; adopt integrated approaches; provision of specialised facilities including support mechanisms for survivors of GBV among other obligations.

This is one of the few GBV Acts in SADC that specifically provides for:

  • The establishment of a Gender Based Violence Fund to assist victims.
  • Establishment of an all-inclusive GBV Committee.
  • Establishment of shelters.
  • Provision of emergency monetary relief.
  • The addressing of harmful traditional practices.

There are, however, some shortcomings identified by organisations like Women in Law in Southern Africa (WLSA). For example the term “domestic relationships” excludes some forms of gender violence such as violence associated with prostitution; violence at the work place; violence by the police and security forces including torture of detained women.

The Act targets:

  • Perpetrators of GBV.
  • Judiciary who handles cases of GBV when taken to court.
  • Police service.
  • Government departments.
  • Women and men.
  • Civil society, the church and other stakeholders.
  • The Nation at large.

Government agents and civil society have begun disseminating and sensitising the public on the provisions of the Act and training the judiciary; a communication strategy and putting together a National Gender Monitoring and Evaluation Plan. This is being done in tandem with the reviewing of the National Gender Policy.

Challenges to be overcome include effective implementation; limited financial and human resources; weak monitoring and evaluation strategies; slow court trials; public awareness, especially in rural areas; and types of violence not catered for by the Act. But the Act sets a precedent for other SADC countries. It is a good practise that can and should be replicated.


3 thoughts on “Zambia: Anti-gender Based Violence Act passed”

Remmy Kaps says:

When a man is beaten by his wife,its not a crime but when the opposite happens, the vuvuzelas even lobby fro funds to make sure that poor husband it jailed. what an animal farm?

Allan Jere says:

The fight against Gender Based Violence has mostly favoured women and girls. What is the explanation for this?

simon chimba says:

Women and Children are the most venerable no wonder its seen as if they are the most favored

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