To address the rampant rape, or “defilement,” of minors in Zambia, Equality Now supported Mary in her case against a teacher who raped her when she was 13-years-old.
Mary’s case: Raped by her teacher in Zambia
Mary’s teacher called her to his house under the pretext of picking up her exams. Instead, he raped her.
When the incident was reported, the principal indicated that this was not the first time this teacher had assaulted a student - but, in spite of this, the school had not taken any action against him. On the insistence of Mary’s aunt, the teacher was arrested - but he was subsequently released and was not prosecuted.
Mary is awarded damages
We worked with a pro bono lawyer who brought a civil case on Mary’s behalf against the Ministry of Education, the school and the Attorney General.
In 2008, in a landmark decision, the High Court in Lusaka awarded Mary damages ($14,000) for pain and suffering, mental torture, aggravated damages and medical expenses.
Calling the police’s failure to bring charges against the teacher “a dereliction of duty,” the judge referred the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a possible criminal prosecution. He further urged the Ministry of Education to set regulations to prevent more students from being raped by teachers.
We advised Mary’s lawyers on regional and international treaties that Zambia has ratified that protect the rights of women and girls. As a result, the High Court judgement cites the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol). This judgement represents a step forward for Zambia to put the Protocol into practice. In 2009, following our continued advocacy efforts, Zambia withdrew its objections to the Protocol, and the landmark ruling became final.