The woman who was arrested on Thursday for hoisting a placard that carried ‘obscene messages’ during protests against Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Lilongwe has finally spoken.
The lady, Beatrice Mateyo, who identifies herself as a human rights defender and gender activist, says she did not author the placard which read ‘Kubadwa ndi nyini sitchimo. My pussy my pride’ but supported the course to fight against GBV in Malawi.
“I think for me, the focus of people should not be on the message that was on the placard no, the focus should be the message that it is intended to bring across. In our society women have been reduced to their private parts, that is why for me, I felt that message was appropriate in the context of GBV. Our society has the tendency to sugar coat and skirt around issues, but I think it’s high time we start to talk openly about these issues.
“One of the reasons why HIV cases have risen in this country is because of the culture of silence because we talk in hidden language, but it’s high time that this changed,” Mateyo states in a circulating media release.
On what she was trying to convey, Mateyo was quick to say: “People are calling that placard immoral, like seriously how many things are we doing in our houses, in our community that are more deplorable that this mere placard. I think people should not reduce the whole exercise to just one placard, there were many messages that were conveyed that should be taken home. I am pleased that people are able to talk about this demonstration; in a demonstration like this, the aim is to convey a message, people should be able to dialogue and talk about the messages conveyed days, even weeks after the event. So all in all, all I was trying to convey was that we should stop GBV and objectification of women and I feel that has been achieved.”
She has since said her arrest remains unjustifiable because the law enforcers ignore various atrocities women are facing but are quick to arrest people that speak against GBV, something she believes does not make any sense.
According to Mateyo, her arrest will not stop her from advocating the rights of women and girls.
“What I have learnt from this whole thing and the reaction of people is that we need to use language that will spark a few emotions to get the attention we need to address an issue,” said Mateyo who holds a Master of Arts Degree from University College Dublin in Ireland.
There were however varying views on Malawi24 story on the issue on Thursday with some readers saying the placard was too obscene while others backed her saying it is time to speak out.