The past two days have seen people, both from within and outside the country, expressing different opinions regarding a placard deemed to be in bad taste by the society.
The people might be justified in voicing out their concern, just like the protester did in carrying that placard, bearing in mind that freedom of expression is guaranteed in the Malawi Republican Constitution.
Considering where we are coming from as a country, we are inclined to agree with observations that Malawi is a conservative country, and that morals and culture are held in high esteem by a larger section of the society.
We, as a society, have an obligation to ensure that children are well guided and raised to be morally astute, and this can only be achieved if we protect them from being subjected to things that can corrupt their minds, just like that poster the woman was hoisting.
We however also take cognisant of the fact that there are some cultures and moral values that are way past their prime and deserve to be chucked out from the country’s laws, including those customs that have no real basis upon which they were founded in the community.
It is our strongly held belief that organisers of the protest march against gender based violence had no ill intentions when planning their act, and that the poster in question was not a pre conceived idea at organisation level.
We wish to agree that the woman with the placard indeed went overboard by writing the unprintable on her banner, but that, in our considered view, need not deviate us from the fact that women and girls are being butchered in the country.
The commotion over the placard should also serve as a reminder to rights activist that perhaps they need to re-strategise their approach in as far as combating gender based violence is concerned. It appears the battle is now lukewarm, to the point that one disruptive element can upstage a carefully organised march.
Indeed, the message that should be made clear to all and sundry is that women are not drums, to be beaten by the male folk, up to the point of stabbing them with sharp objects as was the case in Lilongwe recently where one was killed by her boyfriend, while another one was left with serious wounds after being stabbed by a business partner.
At the end of the day, we all need to remember that everyone has a right to life as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that women should not be perceived as objects but rather, partners that can help build a stronger nation if uplifted.
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