Scores of women, men and youth on Thursday 14th September, 2017, marched in the city of Lilongwe, to etch into the history of Malawi that they were tired, alarmed, concerned and demanding something serious be done to arrest this escalating menace from our midst.
This was a grand and noble event that was preceded by a statement of support from the Minister of Gender Dr. Jean Kalilani, who in a September 8, 2017 press statement reminded among other things the lineup of the recent spate of violence that have taken place in Malawi.
• Murder of a 24 year old woman and one of her twin babies by unknown assailant in Mzuzu,
• Murder of a woman in Chilinde, Lilongwe by her ex-boyfriend,
• Murder of a woman in Mulanje by her husband,
• Physical assault of a 32 year old woman in Nkhota Kota by her ex-husband,
• Murder of a woman and her mother by her ex-husband in Mangochi,
• Physical assault of a woman by her husband who is a senior police officer in Lilongwe, and
• The stabbing of a 29 year old woman by an acquaintance in Area 18, Lilongwe and possibly some acts that haven’t been reported.
These are very alarming events and speak of an undercurrent of shifts in the way our society is resolving or failing to resolve conflict between women and men, and hence the term Gender based violence.
Along the sidelines of the march, there appeared a woman who carried a placard that had indecent words, this attracted the attention of Police and through the IG, issued a warrant for the woman’s arrest.
Since the arrest on Thursday of Beatrice Mateyo, various statements and exchange of harsh words abound on the merits or demerits of the placard. Ms. Mateyo has issued a statement in her own defence, published here in this publication.
We at the Maravi Post denounce the wisdom behind carrying the lewd placard. While we stand by the right of every person in Malawi to freely express themselves. Such right comes with responsibility and due consideration of the consequences for such expression. When one expresses himself or herself, it is helpful to take into consideration as to which audience, the words freely expressed are intended to reach.
The years 1975, 1985, 1994, 1995, 2005, 2015 are landmark years during which United Nations women’s conferences were held by bringing women from around the world in Mexico, Nairobi, Beijing and New York to register their concerns and map out strategies for correcting the challenges women encounter in an unequal paradigm.
Out of these conferences, such terms as forward looking strategies, women’s rights are human rights, women hold up half the sky, you can’t clap with one hand, nothing about us without us, and recently the HE or SHE, are among the many powerful thought-provoking sentiments that emotively sprang forth and register the urgent need to correct the gender inequalities around the globe.
This was achieved and although there is still a long road to travel to reach total gender equality and empowerment of women huge steps have been made. These were made without women resolving to make foul or offensive self-debasing language.
As the groups in the cause to end GBV in Malawi continue to voice their stand on the issue of Mateyo and her placard, The Maravi Post stands firm to concur with the IG Kachama, that the placard is demeaning to all women. Beside this, the placard, rather than score points for the cause (ending gender based violence in Malawi), only served to derail the discussion from ending gender based violence; swinging 180 degrees to one single woman’s right to express herself, even as she insults the women she is defending.
There were many rightly themed placards like standing together to end violence against women and girls.
Malawi is proudly the home of numerous legal instruments (fought for without anyone championing the cause, uttering a single indecent syllable).
These instruments are:
• The constitution of Malawi, which criminalizes all forms of gender based violence,
• The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 2006,
• The Child Care, Protection and Justice Act of 2010,
• The Deceased Estates (Wills, Inheritance and Protection) Act of 2011,
• The Gender Equality Act of 2013,
• The Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act of 2015, and,
• The Trafficking In Persons Act of 2015.
These instruments were garnered in Malawi through collaborative efforts at tables where men and women met and negotiated. They are the result of respectful deliberations with pastors, gender activists, chiefs, political leaders, parents, youth, community leaders, international donor agencies and many other stakeholders.
We encourage all stakeholders to desist debasing the fight against gender based violence: Say No to gender based violence Say Not to use of Foul Language!
Let us stand together, let us stand up rightly, championing ending violence against women, girls, men and boys.