Zambia: Women and Girls with Disabilities have a Right to Marriage Counseling

by Mercy Banda, HJN Member, SRHR story grant winner

The Women and Girls Disability Rights organization of Zambia is calling for the inclusion of girls and women with disabilities in the traditional counsel that includes sexual and hygiene teachings that females undergo as they get ready for marriage.

Musola Kaseketi, the Executive Director of Women and Girls Disability Rights of Zambia, says girls and women with disability do not know as much as they should about womanhood because they are excluded from enjoying their full rights like other females.

Ms. Kaseketi notes that the trend has deprived women with disability from enjoying their full sexual reproductive health rights.

She says that even when a disabled female is ready to be married off, rarely do families arrange for the traditional counseling, a practice she says, has contributed to increase gender based violence against women with disabilities.

Video produced by Mercy Banda in Zambia

And a traditional marriage counselor of Livingstone’s Ngwenya Township, Margaret Namangolwa who has been teaching women and girls for over three decades says that a woman with a disability has never been brought to be counseled by her.

Ms. Namangolwa says she does not mind teaching girls and women with disabilities but she would appreciate being taught how best to deliver such lessons.

Meanwhile, Livingstone District Health Director Faceroy Nkole has said that from the medical point of view there is no discrimination as to what girls and women with disabilities should be taught when it comes to getting ready for marriage.

Dr. Nkole says that in Zambian society it is normal to train a woman who is ready for marriage and that disability should not be used as an excuse to exclude women and girls with disabilities.

He says the traditional counselors and the girl or woman with a disability can agree on what is manageable instead of denying them the opportunity to learn what other females learn.