Written by Andrew Magombo – Mana
Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati, has asked relevant security authorities to expedite the closure of Mbowe Filling Station car park, a popular public drinking joint in Lilongwe City, where cases of drug and sexual abuse on young girls are reportedly on the rise.
Speaking during a press briefing at the Capital Hill on Wednesday ahead of this year’s International Rural Women’s Day which falls on October 15, Kaliati said it is appalling that some men are using the premises as a breeding ground for initiating girls into the drug trade.
The minister also expressed dismay with the indecent behavior of sexual abuse in broad day light mostly by car owners who patronize the joint.
She said: “I ask police officers and other security agencies to intervene in protecting our women facing different kind of abuses at Mbowe.
“We have learnt that at this place there are drug dealers christening themselves as ‘Baptists’. We cannot tolerate continuation of this disgusting development.
“Owing to this, we ask the law to take its course and bring to book all perpetrators involved. This place should be abandoned forthwith. People should only buy drinks or refill their cars but not use the park as a drinking joint.”
On issues of social welfare, the minister advised all women whose rights have been infringed but have no legal representation to consult her ministry which will be giving them female lawyers pro bono.
Her statement comes at a time when some unscrupulous police and court officials have been conniving with law offenders in other cases where women have been abused.
On her part, UN Women Representative to Malawi, Clara Anyangwe, expressed gratitude to the Government of Malawi for recognizing women living in rural areas during the commemorations annually.
According to Anyangwe, women play a crucial role in agriculture, food security and nutrition, land and natural resources management, care for children, families and enterprises.
She said: “This year’s commemoration comes at a time when we are grappling with issues of Covid-19 on top of climate change negative effects. Our women are laboring under acute disadvantageous conditions.”
“Rural women’s invaluable care and productive work under the pandemic has increased in many places without clean and safe water, sanitation and hygiene, energy supply and health care services.
Women’s activist, Barbara Banda echoed Anyangwe’s sentiments and asked for more support to be channeled towards alleviation of problems being faced by women living in rural areas.
Since October 15, 2008, Malawians observe international rural women’s day to demonstrate and showcase the important role rural women play in sustainable economies and socio-economic resilience.