Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Zambia’s women protest against gender-based violence

In Zambia, after the inauguration of President Hakainde Hichilema last month, more than a thousand people took to the streets of Lusaka to protest over violence against women, holding placards that read: “My clothes are not my consent”; “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes”; and “Don’t tell me how to dress, tell them not to rape”.

The march was led by women and was intended to remind the new administration that protecting the country’s women should be at the top of the agenda.

Zambia is not an easy place to be a woman. About 17% of women in Zambia have experienced sexual violence, according to consultancy firm Oxford Policy Management, and the country faces some of the highest rates of reported gender-based violence in the world.

“In Zambia we report 18 000 cases of sexual gender-based violence every year, meanwhile over 80% of SGBV [sexual and gender-based violence] cases go unreported,” said Ann Holland, the co-founder of the NGO, Sistah Sistah. Sistah Sistah organised the Lusaka protest.

“Our elected officials do nothing. Our systems don’t work, from our police, hospitals and courts. Zambia can boast about how peaceful it is, but it can’t hide the stench of rapists and the fear women live with,” said Holland.

The majority of protesters were young women. 

In Zambia, where half the electorate is under the age of 40, this is especially significant, said Holland. 

Having played a part in bringing Hichilema to power through the ballot box, this generation now wants to see the change they voted for, she said. This article first appeared in The Continent, the pan-African weekly newspaper designed to be read and shared on WhatsApp. Download your free copy here

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Samira Sawlani
Samira Sawlani
Samira Sawlani is a writer, journalist and analyst, specialising in East Africa.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Fears of violence persist a year after the murder of...

The court battle to stop coal mining in rural KwaZulu-Natal has heightened the sense of danger among environmental activists

Data shows EFF has lower negative sentiment online among voters...

The EFF has a stronger online presence than the ANC and Democratic Alliance

More top stories

Kenya’s beach boys fall into sex tourism, trafficking

In the face of their families’ poverty, young men, persuaded by the prospect of wealth or education, travel to Europe with their older female sponsors only to be trafficked for sex

High court reinstates Umgeni Water board

The high court has ruled that the dissolution of the water entity’s board by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was unfair and unprocedural

Mkhize throws the book at the Special Investigating Unit

It’s a long shot at political redemption for the former health minister and, more pressingly, a bid to avert criminal charges

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…