The United Nations (UN) is worried that Malawi could lose gains attained in gender equality and reproductive health service delivery due to increased cases of violence against women.
UN Women Representative Clara Anyangwe said this Wednesday during the launch of this year’s 16 days of activism at Makawa Primary School ground in Mangochi District.
Anyangwe said Malawi needed to tighten seat belts in fighting gender-based violence (GBV), which she described as counterproductive.
“It is high time Malawi started devising new strategies that would make Malawi a secure place for both women and girls. It is shocking that about 822 women and girls have been defiled or raped between January and October this year.
“This is shocking, considering that some of these girls were also gang-raped. We need to find ways of ending this evil. We cannot continue to tolerate this,” Anyangwe said.
The UN Women representative added that Malawi could not achieve Sustainable Development Goals three and five due to the recent spate of GBV cases.
She said the recent sharp rise in defilement and rape cases should serve as a wake-up call to Malawi.
Anyangwe said the UN believed that involving men and boys in the fight against GBV could help stakeholders create a secure environment for women.
In her remarks, Second Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Aisha Mambo called for harmonisation of the country’s laws.
Mambo also urged law enforcers not to ease down on enforcement of existing laws.
“It is sad that we have evidence that some police officers and child protection officers do not make proper follow-ups on defilement cases. This is bad because we have a lot of cases that are stalling despite having officers employed to do that,” she said.
Gender Minister Patricia Kaliati appealed to civil society organisations to partner the Judiciary in making sure that all defilement cases were being heard in the residential areas of perpetrators.
“We need you to fund the court so that they can move case-hearings to villages where children are being defiled. We believe this can help to ensure that community members appreciate the sentences being given,” she said.
Kaliati said her ministry would also lobby for increased funding from the Treasury to ensure that more money was channelled to initiatives that would lead to the eradication of GBV in Malawi.