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Lina’s* Story

Lina*, an adolescent mother from Mutanda village in Kalumbila District of North Western Province, shares how a One Stop Centre for survivors of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) within her community helped her claim her rights against sexual and gender-based violence.

“At age 10, I dropped out of 4th grade at school because I was sexually abused and impregnated by a relative who was 10 years older than me. My mother was ready to marry me off to the man so that he can take care of me and the baby, and being very young, I found it very difficult to refuse, even when I knew what she was doing was wrong. However, my situation changed when I participated in a GBV sensitization activity in my village, which encouraged me to reach out to a peer educator who lived near my house. The peer educator linked me with a One Stop Centre for Survivors of GBV in Solwezi District, where I received the help and support I needed” says Lina.

Through the Solwezi-based One Stop Centre for GBV established by the Government of Zambia, and managed by the Young Women Christian Association with support from the United Nations – Government Joint Programme on Gender-Based Violence, Lina was taken to a safe house for survivors of GBV, where she received counselling, medical and legal support while awaiting legal action for her case of sexual defilement and child marriage.

“I am happy that with support from the One Stop Centre, legal action was taken against the man who abused me, and I was protected from a forced child marriage by my mother. I now have a 4-months old baby girl, and looking forward to returning to school. While staying at the shelter, I acquired valuable knowledge and skills. I learnt about my human rights and built my confidence to pursue my dreams. When I grow up, I want to be a nurse, so that I can provide medical support to other girls who may have suffered sexual abuse" Lina highlights.

Community driven actions to end GBV

In Zambia, One Stop Centres for GBV have emerged as a key strategy for the protection and empowerment of women and adolescent girls at risk and affected by sexual and gender-based violence. The Centers offer a comprehensive package of services that include psychosocial counselling, paralegal services, occupational therapy, sexual and reproductive health information and services, as well as re-integration of GBV survivors into society.

To date, over 30 One Stop Centers have been established country-wide by the Government of the Republic of Zambia, with support from the United Nations – Government Joint Programme on Gender-Based Violence, among other partners.

Inspiring action for women and girls 

Using her past experience and knowledge acquired through the GBV shelter, Lina is now encouraging other girls affected and at risk of sexual and gender-based violence through group discussions organised by peer educators at Kazomba clinic in Solwezi District.

Lina shares a message to her peers: “I would like to enourage other girls who may have experienced sexual abuse. Please dont be afraid to speak up when you are sexualy abused or forced into child marriage. Learn about your rights and seek help from other people such as neigbours or community leaders, even if your family is not supporting you. To parents, I urge you to speak to your children about sexual and gender based violence, so that we know what to do when we are faced with such challenges", Lina concludes.

* Name changed