With respect to domestic violence,
the 2007 Demographic Health Survey found that almost half of all women had experienced physical violence since they were 15. Of those who experienced physical violence since the age of 15, 77% reported that their current or former husband or partner was the perpetrator.
A factor contributing to the high prevalence and tolerance of domestic violence is the acceptance of violence in the community. The 2007 Demographic Health Survey found that significant numbers of both women (62%) and men (48%) believe that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife in certain circumstances.
Further, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and its causes and consequences reported, after her visit to Zambia in 2010, that “many interlocutors … expressed concern at the fact that the general population seems to condone violence as a way to solve conflicts, particularly within the domestic sphere”.
The Penal Code in Zambia defines rape
as an “offence against morality”, providing for heavy penalties, including life imprisonment.
Marital rape is not prohibited under the Penal Code;
however, the Penal Code’s assault provisions can apply to cases of spousal abuse.
In 2011, the government enacted its first comprehensive bill addressing violence against women, the Anti-Gender-Based Violence Act,
and the country has a National Plan of Action on Gender-based Violence, put in place in 2008.
Survey data indicates that violence against women is common in Zambia. The 2007 Demographic Health Survey found that one in five women reported that they have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives. The majority (64%) of women reported that their current or former husband, partner, or boyfriend committed the act of sexual violence. 19% of women who were younger than 15 years old when their first experience of sexual violence occurred reported that the perpetrators was related to them .
The Anti-Gender-Based Violence Act no.1 of 2011 defines sexual abuse as “ including the engagement of another person in sexual contact, whether married or not, which includes sexual conduct that abuses, humiliates or degrades the other person or otherwise violates another person’s sexual integrity, or sexual contact by a person aware of being infected with HIV or any other sexually transmitted infection with another person without that other person being given prior information of the infection’’. As such, currently the Anti-Gender-Based Violence Act is the only specific legislation prohibiting sexual harassment
. According to the US Department of State and the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, the Penal Code contains provisions under which such violations can be prosecuted.
The National Action Plan on Gender-based Violence (GBV) 2008-2013 defines gender-based violence as a global health, human rights, and development problem.
The plan promotes and outlines a “systematic, complementary, and comprehensive” approach to gender-based violence, which focuses on the reform of laws and policies, creating awareness amongst the Zambian population, building the capacity of multiple sectors in the Zambian society tasked with addressing the problem (health, justice, education, etc.), and providing a holistic response to victims.
There are multiple sets of indicators to address the many facets of the plan. The indicators for the justice system include: the number of legislative instruments passed, number of members of the justice system trained in GBV response, number of GBV law and policies disseminated to the public, increase in reported GBV cases and convictions, and increased confidence in the judicial system.
The 2010 letter to CEDAW, Human Rights Watch reports that sexual violence and other severe forms of violence against women are common for women in detention, primarily perpetrated by police officials. The report states that police officers try to coerce female detainees into sex in exchange for their release.
In addition to violence in detention centres, which was also described by the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, conditions for female detainees during the Special Rapporteur’s visit were found to be degrading, and included issues of overcrowding, lack of medical attention, as well as stigma against pregnant women. 
Key challenges in Zambia are the lack of enforcement of the law and culture of impunity for perpetrators of violence against women. The World Organisation against Torture reports that although the government has established specialist units with the police force to respond to violence against women, discriminatory attitudes amongst the police and judiciary prevent women from reporting violence. It is reported that women are often pressured by law enforcement officials into withdrawing complaints of violence or reconciling with their abusive husbands.
Further, the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance noted that, even with the passage of the 2011 Anti-Gender Based Violence Act, there are many challenges to overcome gender based violence in order to fully and effectively curtail violence against women; these include: “limited financial and human resources; weak monitoring and evaluation strategies; slow court trials; public awareness…and types of violence not catered for by the Act.” 
Limitations on women’s reproductive rights also infringe upon women’s physical integrity in Zambia. The 1972 Termination of Pregnancy Act allows access to safe abortion
on medical or social grounds. However, due to a lack of awareness of the legality of abortion amongst women and health care providers, many maternal deaths are the result of complications from unsafe abortions.
 Demographic Health Survey (2007), p.275-278  Demographic Health Survey (2007), p.263-265  UN Human Rights Council (2011), p. 6 Penal Code, Chapter 87, Sections 133 and 134; OMCT (2007), p.20  OMCT (2007), p.20  OMCT (2007), p.20  Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance (2011)  Republic of Zambia (2008)  Demographic Health Survey (2007), p.278  Penal Code Amendment Act No. 15 of 2005, UN Human Rights Council (2011) p. 10; US State Department (2013), p. 17  Republic of Zambia (2008), p. 6  Republic of Zambia (2008), p. 18-19  Republic of Zambia (2008), p. 21  Human Rights Watch (2010)  UN Human Rights Council (2011), p. 8-9  OMCT (2007), p.9  Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance (2011)  OMCT (2007), p.15