Women under the banner of Women Manifesto Movement Friday took to the street to show their dismay over physical and sexual violence that some women and girls were subjected to at Msundwe, Mpingu and M’bwatalika in Lilongwe two weeks ago.
Several women and girls have alleged sexual and physical abuse by police officers who were deployed to control the crowd of protesters in the areas.
The group, through their petition, has asked President Peter Mutharika to undertake necessary measures to ensure that perpetrators are dealt with.
“Ensure that the investigative teams, both Malawi Human Rights Commission and the team from Malawi Police Service, are well resourced that their efficiency in carrying out their mandate over this assignment is not stalled,” reads part of the demand.
The movement also wants Mutharika to issue a direct order to the Office of the Inspector General of Police to act with speed and professionally on the matter and ensure no repeats of similar acts.
Member of the movement who led the group Emma Kaliya said, in the country, many issues of violence against women go unpunished.
“It is quite disheartening that those that are supposed to protect us are abusing us. What we are saying here is that authorities must act with speed on this issue. We need to know the truth. If they will be found guilty, they [police officers] should be treated like anyone else,” she said.
Other notable faces that participated in the march include European Union Ambassador Sandra Paeson and Monica Chakwera, wife to Malawi Congress Party leader Lazarus Chakwera.
Paeson stressed the need for a proper investigation on the alleged sexual and physical violence of the women.
“I stand with women who don’t want to be victims of violence. We want investigations, we don’t want any violence against women in the country,” she said.
Chakwera said any violence against women must not be condoned.
Lilongwe City Council Director of Administration Mussa Mwale acknowledged receipt of the petition and assured that it will be delivered to appropriate authorities.
According to the victims, the alleged police officers invaded their homes and harassed and assaulted them.
Meanwhile, police said it has instituted an inquiry on the matter.
Several stakeholders have strongly condemned the acts, demanding justice for the women.
Two weeks ago, angry residents of Msundwe Trading Centre, had barricaded the Lilongwe-Mchinji Road at their territory, burning tyres and engaged in running battles with the police, allegedly in protest of the decision by Mutharika to hold his first rally since May 21 Tripartite Elections in Lilongwe, widely considered a stronghold of MCP.
Following the fracas, where an irate mob stoned to death Police Mobile Service Superintendent Usumani Imedi at Msundwe, police arrested 43 suspects from the three but 39 have since been granted bail.