ALTHOUGH the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence (GBV) is long gone, it would be expecting just too much that the vice will come to an end, let alone reduce.
This is because, as Southern Province Permanent Secretary Sibanze Simuchoba says, GBV is deep-rooted in most communities.
Specifically referring to Southern Province, Mr Simuchoba says GBV cases are many there, especially that the area is one of a few provinces in Zambia with many polygamists.
The Southern Province permanent secretary is well in tune with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
ILO says that in general, the orientation of a culture, or the shared beliefs within a sub-culture, helps define the limits of tolerable behaviour.
According to the ILO, to the extent that a society values violence, attaches prestige to violent conduct, or defines violence as normal or legitimate or functional behaviour, the values of individuals within that society will develop accordingly.
Attitudes of gender inequality, states the ILO, are deeply embedded in many cultures and that rape, domestic assault and sexual harassment can all be viewed as a violent expression of the cultural norm.
It is an indisputable fact that gender-based violence involves power imbalances where, most often, men are the perpetrators and women the victims of the vice.
As some studies have clearly shown, the principal characteristic of gender-based violence is that it occurs against women precisely because of their gender, as a weaker or fair sex.
In this respect, justifications for violence frequently are based on gender norms – meaning, as it does, social norms about the proper roles and responsibilities of men and women.
Again, it is indisputable that these are cultural and social norms which very often socialise males to be aggressive, powerful, unemotional, and controlling and, therefore, contributing to a social acceptance of men as dominant.
Similarly, expectations of females as passive, nurturing, submissive, and emotional also reinforce women’s roles as weak, powerless, and dependent upon men.
It is for these reasons that in cases where men tend to be victims of GBV, female assailants argue self-defence as excuse for their actions. And, as often as not, these women have gotten away with this, even in courts.
What could even be said to be a worse scenario is where some women who entirely depend on their husbands withdraw GBV cases because they feel the family would suffer should their men, who may be the sole bread-winners, be sent behind bars.
So socialisation of both men and women has largely resulted in an unequal power relationship between males and females.
But the battle is not all lost, however, and, as Mr Simuchoba says, sensitisation of citizens on the dangers of GBV should continue, with or without the annual 16 Days of Activism Against GBV.
GBV victims should also heed the permanent secretary’s counsel not to withdraw GBV cases from the police because this habit only tends to frustrate efforts to fight the vice.