Fast facts

Total population: 18.6 million

Internet penetration rate: 5.4 million

State bodies tasked with tackling GBV: Ministry of Gender and Child Development | Ministry of Health | Ministry of Justice

A portal to enable and empower

A portal to enable and empower

Overview of GBV in Zambia

Although Zambia has previously been lauded as a model for a functional multi-party state, it has faced some acute challenges to its democracy in recent years. In August 2021, its presidential elections were marred by internet shutdowns and an alarming stifling of freedom of expression. This further contributed to concerns about the country’s cyber laws with opposition leaders, journalists, and activists having been targeted for sharing dissenting views.

Following the elections and the inauguration of President Hakainde Hichilema, thousands participated in a GBV protest in October 2021 to alert the new administration to the need to prioritise the protection of women.

Zambia’s GBV statistics are staggering, with nearly half (47%) of women between the ages of 15 and 49 reporting that they have experienced physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse. The country also has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. A study conducted by  UNFPA found that poverty and limited access to “programs, information and services” are the leading reasons that girls are more susceptible to marriage.

Notably, the Victim Support Unit of the Zambia Police Service recorded a slight decline in reported GBV cases in the first quarter of 2020 (from 5584 cases in the first quarter of 2019 to 5040 in 2020). However, the Ministry of Gender publicly declared that GBV remained an area of priority as it is also a significant public health issue in Zambia.

Prior to the pandemic, and in an effort to expedite justice to victims and survivors, the Zambian government established two fast-track courts to deal specifically with GBV-cases. The courts, situated in Lusaka and Kabwe, are intended to increase accessibility to the justice system and protect victims and survivors from facing alleged perpetrators.

In terms of OGBV, the Gender Commission has recognised that ‘cyberbullying and stereotyping’ are harmful practices that plague women but,s is the case in many neighbouring countries, interventions to tackle OBGV have been minimal. The government has, however, actively utilised social media to spread awareness on GBV. Minister Elizabeth Phiri has shared firm views on perpetrators on GBV – stating that GBV offences should not non-bailable.

Overall, the state’s limited response to GBV under COVID-19 leaves much to be desired.

Holding those in power to account

Holding those in power to account

Laws, policies, and resources relating to GBV in Zambia

Although in the first quarter of 2020 Zambia saw a slight decline in GBV cases, by November 2020 police spokesperson Ester Katongo reported that there had been a 19.8% increase in GBV cases in 2020. During the briefing, she also noted that during the early stages of lockdown, there was a general hesitancy to report GBV due to a “…misinterpretation of some COVID-19 preventative measures”, mainly stay at home campaigns.

In the lead-up to elections, World Vision Zambia called upon politicians to:

  • prioritise children and gender issues in national expenditure;
  • fully operationalise the Anti-GBV Fund as established in the Anti-GBV Act of 2011; and
  • create resources for gender-sensitive mental health and psychological support.

The Ministry of Gender collaborated with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to study the challenges faced by survivors as a result of COVID-19. Save for this study, the government’s stance on the pandemic has been difficult to ascertain. Civil society has seemingly played an active role in providing counselling, shelter, and information to victims and survivors, but funding constraints have limited their capacity.


The Constitution recognises ‘human dignity, equity, social justice, equality and non-discrimination as national values and principles. Such values and principles apply to the enactment, interpretation and development of law and state policy.

Broadly, the Anti-Gender Based Violence ct stipulates the procedure for obtaining a protection order or occupation order and the prosecution of offenders. Importantly, it notes that “a single act may amount to gender-based violence”. It also provides for the creation of shelters for both adults and children. Under Articles 31 and 32, it establishes an Anti-Gender Based Violence Committee as well as an Anti-Gender Based Violence Fund for monetary relief.

This Act establishes the Gender Equity and Equality Commission, and emphasises the principles of achieving gender equity and equality, which include gender mainstreaming, the non-exploitation and degradation of women, and collaboration between public and private bodies.


Zambia’s development plan notes that GBV is an area of critical concern for domestic security and the need to focus on the social and economic empowerment of women.

Phase two of this programme, launched in December 2020 and intended to run until 2022, is a multi-sectoral approach to eradicate GBV in Zambia. The first phase focused on creating an integrated mechanism for the implementation of the Anti-GBV Act.


Prior to the coming into force of this Act, concerns were raised about its potential to curb freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and the right to privacy. In so far as OGBV is concerned, the Act criminalises a multiplicity of crimes, including cyber extortion, the publication of information that intentionally compromises the safety and security of another person, the production or possession of obscene materials, hatespeech shared via a computer system, and online coercion, intimation, or harassment. The Act establishes a Cyber Security regulator, whose function includes the investigation of alleged cybercrimes.


National Legal Aid Clinic for Women:

Young Women Christian Association Council of Zambia Zambia:

Women in Law and Development in Africa:

Right to Care Zambia:

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