The Judiciary has disclosed that, under the case management system—which is being piloted in three districts in the country—it has registered about 300 genderbased violence (GBV) cases in just five months.
Three districts of Lilongwe, Mangochi and Karonga are piloting the system at the magistrate level under the Tithetse Nkhanza Project. Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Ivy Kamanga disclosed this yesterday in Lilongwe during the launch of the Judiciary handbook for the handling of cases of violence against women and girls, and the electronic case management system in the country. Judges, magistrates, court clerks and Malawi’s development partners graced the event.
Kamanga described the rise of cases of gender-based violence as a crisis that should be dealt with from the grassroots level.
“Records of gender-based violence cases in the three districts mean that we have a problem that we, as a country, should deal with. The problem cannot only be dealt with by the judicial system; we need to have a wholesome approach, starting from the grassroots, homes with our mothers and fathers, village heads, chiefs, members of Parliament even our churches,” Kamanga said.
She said GBV and assault cases could not be the exclusive of the courts, saying addressing the issue went beyond imposing sanctions that were punitive in nature.
“The courts are wondering whether the sentences they have been passing are not sending frightening messages to people because, despite sentencing the culprits to 25-year prison sentences with hard labour, we find another person from the same locality committing the same offence. We, as courts, are asking ourselves whether we not doing enough,” Kamanga said.
Leader of Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office Malawi office Andrew Bowden said the introduction of the handbook would go a long way in ensuring that rights of women and girls were protected.
“We are all aware that there have been increased incidences of offences against women and girls; the offences range from defilement to rape. Efforts have been made to prosecute these offences.
“However, overtime, it has been clear that stakeholders in the criminal justice system do not have a systematic approach to these offences, hence [availability of] the handbook,” Bowden said.
Malawi Human Rights Commission Chairperson Habiba Osman said increased cases of GBV were an indication that “this is a pandemic on its own”.
“Heavy investment in the criminal justice sector is key. The manual and electronic case management system will help in dealing with cases swiftly, effectively and efficiently,” she said.