Sexual assault and defilement of children are some of the most serious challenges facing the Zambian legal system. According to government estimates, over 6000 girls were sexually defiled within the last 3 years.
Because defilement often takes place as a result of child-marriages and other traditional practices, as well as within the family context, many cases go unreported and unprosecuted and the victims remain vulnerable to further violence while the perpetrators remain free to reoffend. Cases which do get reported face several challenges and many of these are not being successfully prosecuted. These challenges include the fact that training for law enforcement in investigation techniques is not readily available and family members sometimes refuse to cooperate with investigators once they enter into negotiations with the accused perpetrator for a financial settlement.
Once a case is brought to trial, there are many difficult procedural hurdles to overcome in presenting physical evidence of sexual violence and legal issues surrounding the oral evidence given by children. Prosecutors are often not provided with adequate training and resources to successfully navigate the procedural issues that arise in prosecuting defilement cases. Cases are also frustrated by the lack of evidence due to inadequate investigations.
CLJ seeks to combat the widespread sexual violence against children in the following ways:
- Creating awareness of the prevalence of sexual violence against children in Zambia by publicizing these incidents as and when they occur
- Facilitating legal advice and counseling to children that have been victims of sexual violence through our advocate and juvenile-in-need matching program
- Conducting research into the causes, consequences and solutions to sexual defilement
- Assisting Prosecutors and Magistrates dealing with defilement cases through free research support and training