Government has said it is concerned with the increase in cases of violence against women in the country.
The ministry of gender, children, disability and social welfare raised the concern recently in reaction to incidents of gender based violence that occurred in the month of August.
In a press statement released on September 8, minister responsible Jean Kalirani said brutal killings of women and other cases of violence against women in August are saddening and came despite the ministry’s effort to curb the same.
“I wish to strongly condemn all acts of violence against women and children. We should be reminded that acts of violence are detrimental to development and are a violation to human rights. Often times, these violent acts negatively affect victims and their dependents through deaths, trauma and physical disabilities. You should all be aware that acts of violence against women and children like murder, rape and defilement shall attract death and life imprisonment sentences,” she said.
The minister said government has put in place mechanisms to ensure that the survivors of gender based violence are assisted. She mentioned one-stop centres that provide coordinated and integrated services to victims of GBV including rape.
“The One Stop Centres have police (Victim Support Unit), psychosocial support, legal, medical and many other services at one point to ensure victims are helped with speed,” she said.
Kalirani however noted that there is need for civic education that will focus on human rights awareness to break the culture of secrecy that prevents some victims from reporting the cases to police.
“There is also a need to address stigma and discrimination associated with being a victim of gender based violence. Often times, reporting of violence can turn out to be a source of stigma, rebuke and isolation on the part of the victim,” said Kalirani.
Kalirani then urged the general public, religious groups, civil society organisations, traditional leaders, and individuals to be vigilant against perpetrators of violence in various places and report all acts of violence to appropriate authorities.
People in Malawi can call 116 for free to report cases of child abuse, child neglect, child sexual abuse and child labour, whilst 5600 can be used to report cases of gender based violence.
In the month of August, recorded cases of gender based violence included the killing of Miriam Siula by her ex-boyfriend in Lilongwe, the brutal murder of a woman and her mother by the woman’s ex-husband in Mangochi and the killing of another woman by her husband in Mulanje.