Women from various political parties have condemned the recent spate of violence which saw two female UTM members being stripped naked in Mangochi by alleged DPP cadets on their way to a party meeting.
The cross party meeting held in Lilongwe on Tuesday was led by chairperson of the women caucus in parliament, Jessie Kabwila under the theme “I refuse to be beaten and undressed for participating in politics”.
In a rare show of solidarity, the event attracted senior figures from all the five major political parties contesting in the forthcoming tripartite election comprising the ruling DPP, UDF, MCP, PP AND UTM.
Speaking for the caucus, Kabwila described the Mangochi incident as retrogressive remarking; “Just because women choose to participate in politics does not mean we are promiscuous and our rights should be respected”.
She also warned that if the trend continues, people should expect women representation to decline further in parliament from the current 16 percent and the 50:50 campaign will not yield any results.
Representing independent shadow women parliamentarians, Lucy Lunguzi Mauluka called on the state president to act and live up to his word as a HEFORSHE champion.
She also wondered what the police are doing describing their silence as appalling despite filing many reports with them.
“We want to know what the police are doing and they should also give us progress reports on this. Malawians voted for multiparty democracy in 1994 and it is our democratic right to associate with any political party without being threatened or molested,” said Mauluka.
Ironically, the ruling DPP which is accused of being the perpetrator and was represented at the meeting by Deputy National Director for Women Hyacinta Palingana Chikaonda who reiterated the stance by other parties and also condemned the violence on women.
“An attack on one woman is an attack on all of us and as DPP we are deeply concerned with this and we urge the police to take action and deal with whoever did this,” said Chikaonda.
The grouping also made a list of demands to be addressed including for the police to take action on those involved without looking at their party affiliation and also resolved to petition President Mutharika and the Inspector General of police.
Telling her side of the story, victim of the Mangochi incident who was stripped naked for wearing UTM regalia, a tearful Veronica told the gathering that her marriage is now in limbo because of the humiliation she suffered and does not know how she will support her three children.
Meanwhile, Mary Chilima, wife to the state vice president and UTM leader who was also present has since appealed to all members to assist Veronica with all the financial support they can so that she can fend for her three children.