Zambia

Country: Zambia

Population: 14.6 million

Estimated prevalence among women aged 15-49:

1%

Type practised:

Unknown - probably Type IV

Legal status:

National laws protect children from violence, but do not specifically address FGC. Most of Zambia’s laws are in line with British law. Recent efforts to tackle Women’s Rights abuse include “the proposed “Sexual Offences and Gender Violence Bill” [2006], drafted by the WILDAF (Women in Law and Development in Africa, Zambia), together with other local organizations, which aims at reviewing  the current Penal Code and legislation that have proven to be inadequate in addressing gender-based violence.” Very little is known about FGC in Zambia which may explain the lack of legislation.

History of FGC in Zambia:

There is a tradition of elongating the labia minora, which the WHO classes as Type IV. This classification is the topic of heated debate with many arguing that the practice is comparable to and even less intrusive than western practices such as labiaplasty and hoodectomy. Fingers alone can be used to elongate the labia with or without the use of natural herbs and oils, whilst others use weights and pegs to stretch them. In some cases, girls have their labia pulled by their elders when they are of infant age.

In other areas, upon reaching adolescence a girl is taught how to regularly pull her labia minora to lengthen it herself. The aim of the practice is to increase sexual pleasure; some argue just for the male partner, others argue for both parties. Many consider elongation of the labia a prerequisite for marriage and childbirth, with those women who haven’t undergone the practice being ridiculed and their family shamed. Health complications associated with labia elongation are fewer than those associated with clitoridectomy; but those who have undergone the practice state pain as a daily consequence.

Ongoing challenges:

There is very little data regarding FGC in Zambia.

Languages:

Bembe 12%

Tonga 13.6%

Chewa 7.4%

Note: Zambia is said to have over 70 languages although many of these may be considered dialects; all of Zambia’s languages are members of the Bantu family.

Major religions:

Protestant 75.3%

Roman Catholic 20.2%

Other 2.7%

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