For the Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ), the increasing number of women reporting cases of gender-based violence (GBV) is a positive sign. While it may seem like a bad thing, it actually means that sensitisation and awareness raising efforts are having a successful impact. In March 2013, the Law Development Association, a group offering legal services to victims of GBV in Choma, Zambia, reported an average of six to ten cases per day; a significant increase compared to last year.
|In Issue 4|
Since 2011, PPAZ has been implementing the Learning Centre Initiative with technical assistance from Sonke Gender Justice Network, and financial support from the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU). The project addresses the need for male involvement in sexual and reproductive health (SRH) in both rural and urban areas of the Choma district of Zambia. The project team offers a wide range of information and services, such as counselling, distribution of information and education material on SRH, screening of short movies, community theatre, and convening of men’s groups to discuss issues of SRH and gender based violence.
A recent survey conducted in Choma indicated that 46% of men considered it justified to beat their wife if she showed disrespect to her in-laws. Neglecting the house or the children was also considered as a reason for violence for 43% of men. As revealed by the Zambia Police Victim Support Unit, these attitudes are sadly translated into actions. In the last quarter of 2012 only, Zambia recorded 9,612 cases of GBV, which is probably only the tip of the iceberg. Increased reporting is therefore considered as an achievement and a step in the right direction for women and men alike.
With regards to GBV, the project works in association with the Law Development Association to offer assistance to male perpetrators of GBV. Through group and individual discussions, men are given an opportunity to reflect on gender roles, women’s rights and the consequences of violence. Men who are willing and see the value in positively changing can then become role models and advocates in their respective communities. They receive support from the project to hold sensitisation sessions on gender-related issues, and to distribute information, materials, and condoms. As a result of these efforts, the Learning Centre project has witnessed an increased number of men attending SRH sessions, accessing information on SRH, and showing interest in becoming a member of the male advocates’ network to support survivors of GBV in stepping forward to report, promote gender equality and prevent future GBV.
By Edgar Simbeye (PPAZ)