Care & Justice Pilot Project


Care & Justice Pilot Project

Sadly child sexual abuse is endemic in Zambia with many men believing that they will be cured of HIV if they have sex with a child. With an average age of only 12, there is negligible support and care for the victims and painfully inadequate systems to pursue justice or to establish effective child protection laws and systems.

Our research has shown that child sex abuse is endemic in Zambia, fuelled by a belief that men will be cured of HIV if they have sex with a child. With an average age of only 12, many of these precious girls receive no special medical or psychological care, with some being ostracised by their family for being troublemakers when reporting the crime.

Our Pilot project ‘Care and Justice’ addresses this, initially serving about 10-for 20 girls, very much based on a model we have established in Guatemala, which provides loving Christian care for the victims, whilst seeking justice against the perpetrators. Crucially, we will also work with the authorities to advocate for long-term systems change and more effective laws to deal with the whole issue. 

We use our Chikondi facility and infrastructure to provide this support, working closely with the police, hospitals, local authorities and more.

Some girls may stay with us for six weeks and others a year or more. During this time our experienced case and social workers will oversee ‘trauma informed care’ with trained child psychologists, family reintegration (including family strengthening, as many victims are from extremely poor backgrounds), or fostering into a Christian family. Our experience in Guatemala results in many victims becoming Christians, as well as their families.

From a justice and systems change perspective, the project will establish a ‘Centre of Excellence’ at our Chikondi facilities, where all stakeholders can work together in the same location as a multi-disciplinary team, to care for the victims, pursue justice AND advocate for systems change. This will include our staff, the police, case and social workers, judiciary, and child protection services, so that a child can access all the services in one place. 

We found in Guatemala that this team can be especially effective in navigating the justice systems, as well as advocating for systems and law changes. Likewise, each successful prosecution has a major impact in both the respective communities and the large family groups that are so prevalent in both Guatemala and Zambia (in Guatemala, we achieve a successful prosecution rate of 75% compared to an average of 7%).

Some key insights to our research:

  • Many men in Zambia believe that sex with a child will cure them of HIV.
  • Some victims receive goats or chickens as compensation, because their parents give up on the painfully slow justice system.
  • Other victims are thrown out of their homes for reporting the crime.
  • In one survey, 33% of men do not consider having sex with a child as ‘bad’, as long as it is in their own home and others do not find out.
  • In another, 43% of girls in Zambia aged 13-17 have reported experiencing violence.
  • There are glaring contradictory laws around the age of consent. 

Initial and timely medical assessments are crucial to providing physical care for the victims. They also provide vital written evidence when it comes to pursuing justice in the courts.

Recovering from the emotional and psychological impacts of sexual abuse can be the hardest thing for victims. Your support equips our carers to help a severely traumatised child.

Our family evaluation programmes help to integrate a child back into a safe family, which can often involve livelihood support, as well as counselling, spiritual input and a lot of to-ing and fro-ing!

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