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Where is government when our women are being trafficked?

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It is well documented that at least 53 Malawian women have been trafficked into servitude in Kuwait. The women are being tricked to believe that they are about to land a dream offer that can change their life completely. As we discuss this issue, only about half of the women have managed to escape the slavery and returned to Malawi.

No-one knows what has befallen the rest of the women for what we hear, from the returnees, is so depressing.

But what is more vexing is that, as usual, the government seems so indifferent to the suffering of our women.

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To begin with, this scam opened up when the government, having come to the end of its wits, announced its decision to export labour to the Middle East. The then Joyce Banda administration said Malawians would be going to work in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Arab world.

Following that proclamation, a lot of Malawian youth have trekked to the Arab world. The lack of transparency that characterised that government programme gave room to crooks to indulge in trafficking of our women. Most of the women have been hoodwinked to believe that they would be going to Saudi Arabia only to land in Kuwait.

A heinous syndicate

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But it is clear that senior Malawi Government officials, both within the country and in our foreign missions, are involved in this trafficking of women. Names of senior police officers have also been mentioned in this unholy trade. You see, the escapees have mentioned the suspects who are well known in the country. The police cannot claim that the suspects are difficult to trace and bring to book.

But what the police have done at best, is to arrest the suspects and release them out on bail, technically putting the case on ice.

Meanwhile, everyone is quiet. Neither the First Lady nor the vivacious erstwhile government Spokesperson and Director of Women in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, Patricia Kaliati, has said anything to condemn this evil. President Peter Mutharika, the Commander-in-Chief of the Malawi Police Service who is supposed to be Nkhoswe Number 1 of our women, has remained mum too. The President is also the appointing authority of our envoys and one would have expected that he receives daily diplomatic briefs on the plight of his mbumba.

If the above mentioned authorities do not see the need to bring to book the suspects, at least our no-nonsense Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mary Kachale, would have picked up the issue and run with it. The DPP has all the powers to commence criminal proceedings against these people who trade in human beings while claiming that their blood money is a miracle from a god.

But to be fair to our own Thuli Madonsela, the DPP might have been overwhelmed with a daunting work of smoking out people who stole our money through the infamous plunder of public funds, christened as Cashgate. The lady has done a very commendable job, risking her life and all just like her then South African counter-part, Madonsela. But I know that if the police submit a file today, Kachale can sniff-out these angels of death and make them pay for their bloody business.

Failure to perform on the part of our cold-blooded police officers is costing the tax-payer millions of kwacha. Our embassy in Kuwait has been forced to spend its last penny to fend for these escapees as they await for a return trip to Malawi. The embassy is also wasting its precious time on this matter instead of being busy courting investors to come and pitch up businesses in the country.

On the other hand, the government has also been compelled to pay for air tickets for some of the women whose relatives could not pay for the tickets in time. If some senior government officials are not protecting someone in this trade, why are the suspects let loose while the tax-payer suffers for their illicit business?

Moving on

The overtaxed Malawians, who cannot afford to send their wards to public tertiary institutions because fees are just too high, demand that those implicated in this beastly conduct must be arraigned before a court of law. They must be allowed time in the cooler to meditate upon their evil deeds and possibly reform.

They should compensate their victims for the psychological torture that the individuals and their families have suffered. The suspects, once convicted, must also be made to pay the victims for loss of business and earnings because they cheated them. Let these evil people also facilitate the immediate return of those other women still stuck in Kuwait: they know how and where to find them.

Government must communicate with the Government of Kuwait to stop issuing visas to Malawians, unless our government clears such applications.

Otherwise, Malawians will continue to ask: Where is the government when our women are being trafficked?

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