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2015 Malawi 16 days of activism: The nation seating on time bomb of gender-based violence

By: Lloyd M’bwana

The case study of Kanengo Police Station’s Victim Support Unit where numerous cases of gender-based violence are increasingly reported yearly with the standing of 200 cases in 2015 from 36 cases in 2001, the time the centre was established, with men beating their wives and deserting families, and raping cases dominating.

Gender Based Violence (GBV) is one of the vices in most sub-Saharan countries including Malawi are struggling to contain with its perforations yet polices and laws are in place to arrest the depravity whose victims are women, children, widows and orphans.

 

Malawi’s media is daily a washed with GBV cases including raping, wives beating, defilement, deserting families among others perpetuated by relatives who were supposed to provide protection to the victims.

No wonder, this year’s United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) Gender Equality Index Report has ranked Malawi 170 out of 187 countries globally with several cases on children right violation which needs urgent attention.

The UNDP report revealed that 46 percent of women once in their child age were sexually assaulted whose short impact are early pregnancies and marriages, and school drought out on the part of children while on women including psychological instabilities which lead to
prostitution.

The year 2015, however, places a landmark on the road to gender equality. With the 20-year anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the United Nations 59th Commission on the Status of Women and most importantly, the United Nations 70th General Assembly (UNGA) which took stock of the progress made in the gender sphere and brought forth commitments to take action to close the gaps that are holding women and girls.

Even this year’s UNGA highlighted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which for the first time includes specific targets and indicators on ending violence against women.

In light of the fight towards gender equality, 16 days were put aside this year also for action ending violence against women and girls from November 25 to December 10 where by on these dates, Malawi with the rest of the world joins together in commemorating International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Human Rights Day
respectively.

With this year’s 16 Days of Activism Campaign titled; “From peace in the home to peace in the world: Make education safe for all”, recognizes the dire situation for millions of boys and girls, men and women whose universal right to education is impacted due to violence,
discrimination and lack of resources.

In lighting purple lights at Parliament building for 16 Days of Activism Campaign against GBV, the Speaker of National Assembly, Richard Msowoya expressed total commitment from legislators in passing laws which might arrest the escalation of domestic violence.

While Alice Harding Shackelfold, the outgoing United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)’s Malawi Representative appreciation various efforts the country has made in addressing the vice through legal instruments, appealed for decisive implementation of programs aligned towards eliminating violence
against women and children.

“Malawi has made strides in addressing violence against women and children through formulation of practical policies and laws but the challenge remains in the implementation of programs which complement the legal frame set up. UN Women is committed to provide financial and technical support in all areas in uplifting women and girls lives for better that the vice is addressed completely”, assures Shackelfold who has been in Malawi for three years now heading to Costa Rica.

Subsequently, the 16 Days of Activism public debate against GBV which UN Women in conjunction with Ministry of Gender organized on November 30, in the capital Lilongwe attracted panelists from women bodies, chiefs, teachers, government officials who unearthed serious violations of women, children and girls rights with fears that Malawi was seating on a time bomb on GBV.

“Case of GBV is very radical these days which just show that the nation is seating on the bomb whereby its explosion if not controlled will be total disaster especially on women and girls who are on the time line. Action must be taken now with the emphasized on education.

Education curriculum must incorporate lessons which might blend pupils from primary to tertiary levels of education on how bad is GBV to our society such that with an informed mind, definitely, will have a free nation from the vice years to come”, delighted Takondwa Kaliwo, the vice Board Chairperson of Girls Empowerment Network (GENET).

Later, the Maravi Post’s visit under the auspices of Gender Link of South Africa at Kanengo Police Station Victim Support Unit (VSU) located at Area 25 in the capital Lilongwe gave the practical test of GBV as for this year alone, the centre recorded about 200 cases including raping, defilement, wife beating, deserting children and families among others.

For instance, on this particular day visit, a 23 year old woman deserted her four year old son for prostitution but later came back home demanding the child from parents. But parents refused regarding to their daughter’s situation that could not be able to raise the kid but the mother insisted which resulted into fighting between family member in protecting the child.

“Our victim support unit is overwhelmed with GBV cases which have two folds meanings of either the area is making head way in addressing the iniquity through reporting or there is much violence in communities which needs a new approach to arrest the situation.

“Since its establishment in 2001, GBV cases have been going up yearly such that the time the unit was opening only 36 cases were recorded, but this year alone, about 200 cases were handled. The apartment is located near Kanengo industrial area where during tobacco selling season more cases are recorded than the other time of the year. Cases
including wives beating, deserting children and families due to economic challenges, raping are common cases recorded.

“With little resources at our disposal, we have intensified massive campaign on GBV where the station’s working communities are sensitized on evils of domestic violence whereby spiritual counseling is given in a bid to reduce the wickedness which has contributed also to further spread of HIV/AIDS pandemic. So, the battle to win GBV remains in togetherness as the nation whereby each one of us has to take a role”, says Welse Munthali of Kanengo VSU which serves three Traditional Authorities (T.As) Mtema, Chitukula and Chimutu in Lilongwe district.

So, with this year’s progress of Gender Based Violence reporting, it seems the nation is heading towards the right direction with suspicion that the bomb is yet to be exploded if practical measures will not be put in place as soon as possible to address the vice.

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