By Mphatso Nkuonera
LILONGWE-(MANA)-Gender experts have expressed concern over ever increasing cases of gender based violence (GBV) despite efforts to curb the vice.
The gender experts made these remarks in Dowa during a media orientation on Gender based violence (GBV) and their role in the 16 days of activism against GBV.
Principal Gender and Development Officer, who is also National GBV Program Coordinator in the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Joseph Kalelo, said it’s time to reflect on what the country has achieved to stop GBV in the past 30 years.
“We are targeting uncharred territories; we are no longer taking business as usual. The private sector, traditional leaders, the clergy and everyone else is challenged to assess themselves what role they have played in perpetuating or stopping GBV in the country,” Kalelo said.
He added that it’s the concern of the ministry to on daily basis read on GBV reports mostly committed by people who should have been in fore-front protecting the survivors.
Chairperson of the GBV Permanent Committee in the NGO-Gender Coordination Network Tiyamike Jimu, said 34 per cent of women and girls aged between 15 to 49 face physical or sexual abuse in lifetime according to 2016 report by National Statistics Office, which she was very worrisome.
“Now 40 to 50 per cent of women and girls experienced sexual harassment of some sought according to ITUC M2019 report. Seven per cent women are sexually assaulted by other men over than their spouses or boyfriends.
“More worrisomely 243 women and girls and girls are victims of physical and sexual abuse that is according to World Health Organization, and in Malawi 34 per cent
GBV leads to increased cases of school dropouts, HIV and AIDS, poverty poor productivity and poor contribution to national development.
Malawi Police Victim Support Desk Officer Gift Likoswe encouraged victims and survivors to report GBV cases to the 364 victim support units’ facilities spread across the country.
“We provide professional counselling in a private and confidential environment. Police is very committed to work all stakeholders to deal with the vice.
“It’s unfortunate that GBV remain a challenge, police recorded 10675 cases from January to July in 2021, while the same period in 2020, we recorded 110311 GBV cases, representing 5.6 per cent drop, cases range from physical, sexual, economic and emotional abuse amongst many.
“In 2020 police recorded sexual violence related cases 834, and in 2021 977 cases were recorded between January to July representing, 58.53 per cent increase.
He said defilement figures toll high, citing negligence and ignorance of the law being a major cause of perpetuation of the GBV cases in the country.
“We have introduced a toll free line 932 to report on GBV cases, apart from enhanced media campaigns to counter this vice, that is flourishing in the societies.
He then appealed for assistance to train officers and transport to respond to cases with speed.
The orientation aims at outlining a public engagement strategy for the 2021 16 days of activism that will run from 25 November to 10 December, which is a global call to action against GBV.
This year’s 2021 campaign marks 30 years of action, and is been held under the theme ‘end violence against women and girls act now’.