The number of cases recorded is almost 3,000 higher than 2021 figures. While authorities see this as a sign that more Malawians are reporting the abuses, an activist is urging caution as it could also mean that GBV cases are rising.
Gender-Based Violence (GBV) cases have gone up, with 2750 new cases from January to November as compared to the same period last year.
The statistics come barely a week after concluding commemorations of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.
According to police statistics, this year Malawi has recorded 18,726 GBV cases against last year’s 15,976.
Speaking to Malawi News Friday, National Police spokesperson Peter Kalaya said while awareness of GBV-related issues is increasing, there is still cause for worry because incidents of GBV are increasing.
“Among components of our strategy in fighting GBV is increased awareness on the vice. As a result of our intensified awareness, people are opening up and reporting cases that they suffer or witness such cases, which is a good development for us. We encourage men who fall victim to GBV never to suffer in silence but report to us through their nearest police formations or to any other authorities.
“And as police, we will continue to implement strategies that we have in place for dealing with vice. Chief among these is awareness and we believe information is powerful. We will also continue to engage stakeholders in the battle so that we face GBV as a united force,” he said.
Minister of Gender Patricia Kaliati said much as the number of cases is worrisome development, it could mean that people are now opening up about abuse they are facing in various places.
Kaliati said government will ensure that all stakeholders in the fight against the abuses sustain the fight, arguing that one day the numbers will drop which would symbolise a decrease in cases and not necessarily numbers of cases reported.
“So, I will say this is both good and bad news. Because opening up is in itself a positive stride because back in the days, people used to suffer in silence. The general feeling then was that law enforcers do not do anything on such issues.
“But we have seen that police are making a lot of arrests and they have taken part in campaigning against GBV. The judiciary has also been of great help in handing down stiff penalties to perpetrators of GBV and this has been sending a strong message to would-be offenders. So yes, we have made strides but of course, there is room for improvement; we can do more as a country. All this symbolises development,” she said.
NGO Gender Coordination Network Chairperson Barbara Banda said there is need to interrogate the numbers that are being recorded.
“We need to explore the theory that this is because there is more awareness and people are coming out to report the cases and not necessarily an increase in the actual GBV.
“On the other hand, all of us need to take interest in the fight against the vice. I want to particularly talk to the men because now they are being addressed as partners and not always the perpetrators because there are many victims that are men. So we want them to have the talk with whoever they trust in their circles,” she said.
Regarding various forms of violence against women, information available on UN Women site shows that physical or sexual intimate partner violence stood at 24.3 percent in the last 12 months whereas child marriage was at 42.1 percent and lifetime physical or sexual intimate partner violence was recorded at 37.5 percent.