National Aids Commission (Nac) has bemoaned girl child abuse in the Shire Valley district of Nsanje at the hands of traditional leaders and food aid workers describing the acts as retrogressive in the fight against HIV and Aids.
The remarks follow published reports that girls as young as 13 years old as well as women are being forced to sleep with local leaders and the aid workers in exchange for humanitarian aid.
Reacting to the development, Chimwemwe Kaonga, who is Commissioner for Youth at Nac, said such a practice is unfortunate and unacceptable.
“These revelations cannot be entertained, especially this time when Malawi is grappling with high HIV prevalence among female adolescents which currently stands at 4.7 percent according to Unaids.
“What is happening in Nsanje is only aggravating the already sorry state which the youth are going through in the face of HIV and Aids. Young people are in a state of insecurity in terms of food, better nutrition and even low incomes at household level due to illness or death of parents or even the young people themselves becoming less productive due to Aids-related illness,” said Kaonga in a statement released yesterday.
Kaonga called for a comprehensive approach in the development of interventions aimed at addressing gender inequities and gender-based violence.
He appealed to social welfare officers and other relevant stakeholder s working in Nsanje to intensify awareness campaigns on the rights of girls and women as well as abolition of the harmful cultural practices that are fuelling the spread of HIV.
“It is unfortunate that chiefs and other community structures are culprits in this. Chiefs are supposed to be in front to protect girls and not the other way round.
“Our block leaders must take commitment to safeguard the girls and women by among others creating awareness against sexual exploitation and reporting such cases to police and other organisations for action,” Kaonga said.
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