A Malawi Police top boss has advised officers to stop hiding information about the gravity of gender-based crime and sexual abuse against children in the country.
Malawi Police Service (MPS) Director of Finance and Administration Commissioner Tadius Samveka advised his juniors Monday at Mponela in Dowa when he opened a five-day training workshop on gender-based crime and violence against children.
Samveka was reacting to UNICEF’s statistics which indicate that there could be more unreported cases of violence against women and children in the country.
Speaking earlier, UNICEF Malawi’s Chief of Child Protection Afrooz Kaviani Johnson revealed startling statistics about the cases in the country.
Johnson said UNICEF is acutely concerned and focused on ensuring that every child lives a life free from violence.
“Unfortunately, the statistics in Malawi are grave. We know that one in five girls and one in seven boys experience sexual violence; two in three boys and two in five girls experience physical violence,” she explained.
Johnson further said one in three boys and one in five girls in the country experience emotional violence in childhood.
“We also know that most young children between two and four years old (71 per cent) are subjected to violent discipline, and over one third of children under five years of age live with a mother who is the victim of intimate partner violence,” she said.
Johnson then said UNICEF has partnered with the MPS to train police officers how to manage cases of sexual and gender-based violence.
“Through a new United Nations and European Union initiative called ‘Spotlight’, UNICEF has earmarked over K300 million in 2019 and 2020 for various efforts which include training,” she said.
Johnson said the efforts are aimed at preventing violence against women and children and improving the quality of services for child and adult survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
“This is a significant investment, for which we must see real and sustained results,” Johnson said.
In reaction, before reading his prepared speech, Commissioner Samveka said he was touched by UNICEF’s sentiments.
“The statistics that you got are very pertinent. I think there are some statistics that we [police officers] are suppressing instead of letting them come out so that people know the extent of gender-based violence.
“Honestly, myself, I am seeing this information for the first time. We cannot grow or move from where we are as a nation if we don’t expose and let people know that there is violence among us,” he said.
Samveka also asked the media to help in exposing such cases for different stakeholders and society to take action. He said the figures might be higher.
“Most of the cases are not reported and are hidden under the lap. Some people are there to suppress the figures.
“Let us not be the violators when we are supposed to be the ones to protect the rights of children,” he said.