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Human Rights Watch conducted research for this report in Zambia in May and June 2002. Two Human Rights Watch researchers visited about thirty-six nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), orphanages or other centers for children and, with their help, interviewed approximately 100 girls under eighteen years of age.2 Most interviews were conducted in Lusaka, the capital city; Kitwe and Ndola in Copperbelt Province; and Kafue, a town forty-four kilometers outside Lusaka. Interviews were generally open-ended and covered many topics. In this report, the names of girls are changed for their protection. Human Rights Watch also met with a number of government officials, including representatives of the National AIDS Council, the police force, the Child Affairs Department of the Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development, and the Ministry of Community Development, Department of Social Welfare, as well as with United Nations agency and bilateral donor agency representatives.

Most interviews took place in NGO, government or donor agency offices or in orphanages or other service centers. Interviews with girls were conducted by one or two Human Rights Watch researchers in settings that were as private as possible. Some interviews were in English, but where that was not possible, NGO staff provided translation as necessary. In addition, Human Rights Watch collected information from a wide range of sources and conducted a number of interviews by telephone.

Sexual abuse of girls leading to heightened risk of HIV transmission is a widespread phenomenon, and research similar to that reported here could have been conducted in any one of a number of countries. Human Rights Watch chose to do this work in Zambia for a number of reasons, including (1) that the national AIDS policy and accompanying legislation are only now being finalized in Zambia, (2) that the recent influx of considerable donor resources to combat the epidemic presents an opportunity for strengthening protections for girls, and (3) that a range of organizations and institutions in Zambia are active in assisting children, including orphans and street children, in promoting the rights of women and girls, and in providing services and education related to HIV/AIDS.

2 The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines children as "Every human being under the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier." Convention on the Rights of the Child, art 1, G.A. Res. 44/25, annex, 44 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 49) at 167, U.N. Doc. A/44/49 (1989). Human Rights Watch considers all persons under age eighteen to be children. A few of the girls interviewed were over eighteen years of age but recounted to Human Rights Watch experiences from before they turned eighteen.

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