Minister condemns undressing of police officer, teargassing of babies

Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Mary Navicha has condemned protesters for undressing a female police officer and for forcing officers to teargas new-borns at Bwaila Hospital.

Navicha released a statement on Wednesday, a day after post-election protests organised by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) in Lilongwe descended into chaos as protesters looted, carried out arson attacks and undressed a police officer.

The Minister expressed disappointment with the dehumanization of women’s rights and dignity in the ongoing demonstrations.

“It is unbelievable that [the female police officer] was undressed in full view of the organisers of the demonstrations. The act of undressing a woman is wrong both legally as well as morally.

“Further to this, the silence from high level officials as well as organisers of the demonstrations clearly demonstrates that they endorsed this incident. The Ministry strongly condemns this act and will seek justice in this case,” Navicha said.

On the teargasing of a kangaroo ward at Bwaila District Hospital which affected women and their newly born children, Navicha said police were attacking demonstrators who were running towards the hospital to hide.

“The Ministry would like to request the people participating in the demonstrations to avoid places such as hospitals to ensure that the safety of children as well as other vulnerable people is guaranteed.

“The Ministry would like to further request the organisers of the demonstration to ensure that the routes that they use do not expose women and children to such needless danger,” Navicha said.

Navicha also condemned violence during demonstrations. She said the right to hold demonstrations does not supersede other rights and does not sanction illegal activities such as damaging property and causing injury to people.

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