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Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School - Green Background

Country Details

Zambia

  • People v. Chipikili, Zambia, Subordinate Court of the First Class for the Lusaka District, 2010.
    The accused, a teacher, was accused of sexually assaulting a nine-year-old girl while administering an examination to her. The girl testified that she had reported to the school where she was to be enrolled for aptitude tests. She was taken to a classroom where she found herself alone with the teacher. She said that while she was writing the exam, the teacher hugged her from behind and began fondling her breasts. She moved to another seat and finished the exam. He then lifted her up and told her that she was going to help him, but she pushed him away and ran to the principal's office. The teacher denied the charges, arguing that the girl was a slow learner and was mentally disturbed. When he took the stand at the trial, however, he frequently contradicted himself. On the one hand, he stated that people outside would have seen what happened through the windows and that there were other pupils in the class at the time. On the other hand, he said that the alleged assault could have happened so quickly that nobody would see and noted that the schools closed in December, which meant that no other pupils were in class in January when the girl took the exam. Weighing the evidence and taking into account the contradictory testimony of the accused, the Resident Magistrate found that the prosecution had proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. She therefore convicted the teacher of indecently assaulting the young girl.
  • Rosaria Mashita Katakwe v. Edward Hakasenke, Zambia, High Court, 2006.
    Rosaria, a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl, was raped by defendant teacher, and consequently contracted a venereal disease. The rape occurred in the defendant's home, which Rosaria entered with the intent of picking up some past school papers that the defendant had failed to bring to school on multiple occasions. After bringing this incident to the Head Teacher's attention, it was uncovered that the defendant had done this before, that measures had been taken to warn or protect students from the defendant, that the defendant had only received a verbal warning, and that the previous student victim had transferred to another school. In his defense, the defendant claimed that he was in a relationship with Rosaria, to which she consented, as evidenced by a Valentine's Day card that Rosaria had given him. The High Court held that the defendant breached the duty of care that he owed to his pupils and was therefore negligent, noting that it is the duty of a school teacher to care for his pupils, as would a father for his family. The Court reasoned that school teachers are in a position of moral superiority, and a young schoolgirl's "consent" is fictitious in light of the ethics compelling a teacher to not engage in sexual relations with schoolgirls, a young girl's cognitive inability to truly consent, as well as Section 138 of the penal code, which states that defilement of a girl under the age of 16 is an offense. Notably, the Court held that society's indignation of this type of behavior ought to be reflected in the amount of damages awarded. The Court entered a judgment in favor of Rosaria for K 45,000,000 for her pain and suffering, medical expenses, aggravated damages, and mental torture. Furthermore, the Court held that the School, Ministry of Education, and the Attorney General are vicariously liable for this judgment, noting that the government is responsible for all school going children in the care of its agents, including teachers like the defendant.