Written by Tione Andsen
A youth network in Dowa says the culture of silence is fueling cases of rape and child sexual abuse in the district.
Chairperson for Nkukula Youth Network in Dowa, Sydonia Muyande said this Friday at Mtunthama School in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Nkukula in Dowa during community engagement through Theatre for Development (TFD).
The engagement was done through Her Future Her Choice a Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Project being implemented by Network for Youth Development (NfYD) together with Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM) and Oxfam with support from Global Affairs Canada.
Muyande said almost everyday there are cases of rape and defilement but they are not being reported to authorities.
“It is very sad to note that most cases are being done by people that have authority and responsibilities. Fathers are defiling their biological daughters but they are not being reported so that they should be brought to book,” Muyande said.
She urged communities to join hands to report any case of sexual harassment within their areas as one way of ending the vice.
Muyande said Youth Networks within Nkukula are working tirelessly to sensitize the communities on how they should react when they are faced with such cases within their localities.
She appealed to traditional leaders to stop shielding their relatives once they are involved in such acts saying by doing so cases of rape and defilement would continue in their areas.
Senior Village Group Headman (SVGH) Mkhota said girl child need to be protected from sexual exploitation saying communities should be proactive in guard against the malpractice.
He urged communities should be reporting such cases to Police so that the perpetrators should face the law.
Network for Youth Development (NfYD) Project Officer, Sekanawo Mwatibu said they have been working in the area from 2015 to 2017 on the Her Future Her Choice project by empowering Youth Networks.
She said the Networks were formed and trained to disseminate very messages to the communities regarding sexual reproductive rights, child marriages and drop outs.
Mwatibu said the Youth Networks were providing necessary information to communities as to where they could access sexual reproductive health services within their areas.
“We thank the District Youth Office for being instrumental in the implementation of our project which mainly involved the participation of the youth,” she added.
District Youth Officer (DYO) for Lilongwe, Dalitso Manthalu, pointed out that youth need to be proactive to know their rights.
He said once they notice that their rights have been infringed upon they need to report to authorities for redress.