Today we attended a seminar organised by PSHAF. This organisation is run by Priscilla Musonde who wrote a powerful account of her life in a book called ‘Stolen Childhood’ . She was sexually abused by her father from the age of five and held as a sex slave throughout her childhood and early adulthood. She had four children with her father and was forced to marry him. At the age of 30 Priscilla ran away and lived on the streets in Lusaka. She trusted noone. Ready to die, she decided to report her father to the police.
The number of sexual abuse cases reported in Zambia is very low. Both children and adults are so scared to speak out. Adults often fear the shame it would bring on the family and the drastic consequences of losing the family breadwinner. Children fear the words of their abuser, the threats that have been made if they dare to speak out.
Priscilla had always been scared to report as her father had threatened to expose naked photos of her in the newspapers. Yet she reached a point where by she didn’t care. She already felt such shame.
Twenty five years after the abuse started, Priscilla met a police officer who believed her story and took her seriously. She describes him as her guardian angel.
On a separate note, it was encouraging to see this article in the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper last week. More of this is needed as we encourage people to report child abuse…..
And so began a new life for Priscilla, away from her father yet dealing with the daily aftermath and struggle of being a survivor.
Incredibly, she now dedicates her whole life to advocating for children who are going through what she went through. Raising awareness of child sexual abuse and ending the plight and injustice for victims.
Priscilla and her husband are co- founders of PSHAF and yesterday they invited all key stakeholders to a seminar to discuss the fight against child sexual abuse and gender based violence.
In attendance were magistrates, police, sexual forensic doctors, NGO’s, the church and survivors of sexual abuse and violence.
Each survivor was able to share their experiences and stakeholders given an opportunity to give comments, reflect and learn what could have been done differently. These accounts were heart wrenching as time and time again, it was clear that these survivors had been let down. Let down by the very people who should have protected them. Not listened to. Not taken seriously. No justice received. Their accounts were horrific to hear and witness and yet so important as we all met with the common goal to end violence towards children in this nation.
Over the next few blogs, we will be sharing these accounts in a confidential way to preserve their privacy. We want to share these with you so you can get a sense of some of the crimes taking place and begin to understand the role magistrates, police, doctors and NGO’s have.
We believe that the fight against child cruelty can only be won if we work together. It was an extremely important and strategic meeting yesterday. Joined up thinking and collaboration with passionate and like minded individuals is motivating and encouraging. Together we can advocate and move forward to end violence and crime against children.
If you want to join us in this fight, then please feel free to sign up as a regular monthly giver. Your giving does make a difference. If you are already giving, thank you.
We look forward to you journeying with us on the next few blogs as we share what we learned today.