Lobola not ultimate cause of GBV

Sat, 04 Feb 2017 10:59:06 +0000


I was struck by the article, “High lobola prices fuelling GBV, says NGOCC” (Daily Nation, February 3, 2017). But the NGOCC board chairperson Sara Longwe’s conclusion that the increase in Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases in Zambia should be attributed to the exorbitant amounts of money being charged as ‘lobola’ – bride price is not quite the whole picture. Available Zambia Police statistical sources seem to be limiting and paint an incomplete and inaccurate account.

Of the Zambia Police’s 18,540 recorded cases of GBV countrywide in the year 2016, what percentage of these cases was against females though males were battered as well in significant numbers? How many of these GBV cases involved married couples? How many were of unmarried couples? For married couples’ categories of these may vary based on

marriage type, i.e. monogamous, polygamous and polyandrous marriage.

How much was the bride price paid? How long has the married couple been in matrimony? The married couples’ age group, social and financial status, educational level etc. These are just a few examples of the variables that need to be taken into account before concluding that ‘lobola’ had lost its cultural significance owing to its commercialisation.

But what about the GBV incidents that do not make the news or reported to the police? They too need to be given equal consideration and weight. Admittedly, Sara Longwe was partly correct when she noted that ‘lobola’ was meant to unite two families and that it was sad that it had now become a money-making endeavour  which, in her incorrect view, had brought negative impact on women who were in most cases victims of GBV.

Albeit, GBV is not just a married couple tradition because it also occurs in the cohabiting couples as well as in the romantic courtships among teenagers. In fact, even polygamous and polyandrous marriages have had incidents of GBV. In the Zambian modern era, the female GBV perpetrators hide behind the façade of woman rights and gender equality. While the male chauvinists hide behind the aegis of ‘men of quality do not marry women of equality’.

Mubanga Luchembe,


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