Child defilers to face castration
Even with the celebration of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence (November 25 December 10, 2003), Zambians have been groaning at the unprecedented cases of defilement in the past months, with the latest being the defilement of a 14 year-old girl, by a Paramount Chief. The child was later discovered to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease.
Cherise Makubale, one of Africa s Roving Ambassadors, through the Big Brother Africa (BBA), a reality TV show, has called for the castration of culprits involved in defiling
youngsters. Government intends to introduce a bill on sexual offences in response to cries by the people for macro-intervention. It is hoped that the law will provide for the detention of offenders without bail and castration of convicts.
Defilement is horrible and inhuman. Whatever stiffer measures Parliament comes up with, I am for it , said Makubale. The Zambian Parliament is discussing the issue of castration of child defilers. The Zambian Parliamentary Select Committee on Legal Affairs, Governance, Human Rights and Gender matters, have since recommended the castration of men who defile children.
Amos Nakalonga, Committee Chairman and Opposition Member of Parliament, says defilement cases even against three months old children were disheartening. "Law is dynamic and with the passing of time, we need to amend the law on sexual violence and abuse of children , Nakalonga said.
"Castration is the best way," said Tresphor Bwalya, another Member of Parliament from the ruling Movement for Multi-Party democracy (MMD). But one Opposition Member of Parliament Sakwiba Sikota, says it would be hypocritical for Parliament, which only recently voted to abolish corporal punishment, to recommend castration as a punishment on defilers.
He said the danger of letting hearts and not brains to rule was that Parliament would enact laws that did not reform the perpetrators or suspects but deformed them. "Castration is a curative reaction but not an answer to defilement," he said. Sikota says castration was sadistic, cruel and inhuman.
"Everyone is annoyed in this heat of things and what I am saying might not be popular but let us take a deep breath and reflect if what we want to do is an answer to the vice," he said. The Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child Development, is further proposing that where a defiled child contracts HIV, the charge should be changed to murder.
Not long ago, a 50 year-old Lusaka man forced himself on a three-year-old-girl. This prompted massive demonstrations by thousands of Zambians, who called for stiffer penalties against child defilers and sexual abusers.
Two months ago, several Zambian women took to the streets, marching, brandishing knives and machetes, openly demonstrating how sexual organs of defilers, should be cut off by castration.
Women for Change, an independent women s movement in Zambia has demanded a serious statement from government on defilement, as children and young girls were no longer safe.
All of us have a responsibility to ensure children are safe. Mini-skirts are not the reason why men defile, what about babies who wear nappies? , asked Emily Sikazwe, Executive Director of Women for Change.
Bishop John Mambo, President of the Mental Health Association of Zambia, says the fight against defilement and rape in Zambia, has been a mockery. Poverty and HIV/AIDS and now defilement have resulted in a host of many negative effects throughout the country , said Bishop Mambo. He says the church could not compromise on defilement or rape and that something had gone wrong in the body of Christ .
Zambia was declared a Christian nation in 1992, but in reference to this, Bishop Mambo said : The church could ask government for stiffer defilement laws. The church must take a stand .
The issue of child defilement and violence against women has also reached the echelons of power, as politicians are beginning to realise how brutal the act is. As men, we can longer be trusted. We are all potential defilers , says Dean Mung omba, President of the Zambia Alliance for Progress (ZAP), an alliance of opposition political parties.
Zambia Police Spokesperson Brenda Muntemba says many cases of defilement have gone unreported due to the conspiracy of silence among communities, especially victims of the vice.
The increase in the cases being reported by the media is not an indication that more children are being defiled now. It is an indication of both media and public awareness of the crime , said Muntemba.
Social analysts say it is difficult to provide figures on child defilement, because there were no statistics to show how deep-rooted the scourge was. A Zambian Social commentator, Charles Chisala, says forms of violence against children such as defilement should never be countenanced in a civilized society, regardless of the status of the culprit, because of the trauma it inflicts on the innocent victim.
In the aftermath of the defilement, the affected girl feels dejected, humiliated and hates herself for being one of whom it has happened. She will also hallucinate over what her friends and relatives will think or are saying about her, after the incident has been exposed , said Chisala.
According to the regional African Gender and Media Network (GEM), Zambia lags behind many countries in terms of legislation against child abuse. For example, South Africa, Mozambique and Seychelles have enacted laws that specifically deal with gender-based violence as a response to the rising number of cases of sexual abuse of women and children.
The Seychelles has even gone to the extent of introducing a family court, to deal with the domestic violence Act.