The government has paid millions of Kwacha in compensation to 17 women from M’bwatalika and Mpingu in Lilongwe after they were sexually assaulted by police officers on October 8 2019.
Four months ago, High Court Assistant Registrar Madalitso Chimwaza awarded the women compensation ranging from K4 million to K10 million each.
Women Lawyers Association (WLA) Monday said the payment marks the conclusion of the civil aspect of the case.
“WLA strongly believes that women and girls have the right to live free of violence. However, statistics show that at least one in every three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.
“Therefore, the ruling and the subsequent payment of compensation in JR Cause No.7 solidifies that violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable and never tolerable,” WLA President Immaculate Maluza says in a statement.
However, the association bemoans that women and girls continue to face barriers in accessing equal opportunity and representation in every sphere of life.
The women lawyers have also warned that they would take immediate action against any perpetrator of violence against victims of sexual and physical abuse.
WLA commenced civil proceedings in February 2020 and, when the civil matter was concluded, the court ordered the Malawi Police Service (MPS) to pay damages to the women and girls.
The case followed the conduct of about 17 police officers who allegedly raped 13 women, defiled one girl and sexually assaulted three under-18 girls.
The offences were reportedly committed during an operation on October 8 2019 at M’bwatalika, Mpingu and Msundwe locations in Lilongwe.
The operation followed the death of police officer Usumani Imedi, who was stoned by angry people in Msundwe area as they protested against the then president Peter Mutharika’s planned political rally in the area.
In March this year, the Ministry of Homeland Security instructed MPS officials not to appeal the compensation matter to ensure that justice was done to the victimised women.
Secretary for Homeland Security Patricia Liabuba said the ministry would facilitate the smooth payment of compensation to the victims in line with the court order.
Earlier this month, Gender Minister Patricia Kaliati said Malawi had no room for people that violate the rights of girls and women, further indicating that those found defiling girls and raping women would pay the “heaviest price”.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.