By Ireen Kayira
As the world is commemorating the 16 days of activism it has been revealed that 38 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime while girls and boys are at 21.8 per cent and 14 per cent respectively boys.
Tithese Nkhanza Team Leader, Grace Malera said this during the launch of the 16 days of activism against gender based violence in Lilongwe organized by the Ministry of Gender, Children Disability and Social Welfare.
Globally this year’s theme is end gender based violence in the world of work.
Speaking to Malawi News Agency, Malera said there are stories in the media about young girls being subjected to sexual violence on their way to school, within the school premises, and of babies in nappies being defiled as well.
“We read of elderly women having their houses broken into and being raped, we read of women being raped in hospitals and even while in police custody and this raises a question whether women are safe or not,” she said.
The Team Leader said that Malawian culture is filled with harmful cultural practices that disempowered women and in some cases subject them to unwanted sex.
Malera added there are a lot of challenges that are being encountered to end this problem which has resulted in a lot of consequences. .
“Considering all the challenges faced the 16 days of activism is therefore an opportune time to facilitate and encourage citizen’s engagement, social accountability and citizen-led demands for accountability and appropriate responses from concerned duty bearers,” she said.
Malera said there is need for creation of awareness among citizens on sexual violence in ways that are meaningfully empowering for the women and girls to know what to do, where to go and what to expect from service providers in case of misfortunes.
Minister of Gender Children Disability and Social Welfare, Mary Navicha said the 16 days of activism which runs from November 25 to December 10 and called this as the rightful time for more advocacy platforms in the elimination of violence against women.
The Minister said the localised theme for this year’s 16 days of activism is generation equality stand against gender based violence in the world of work.
“The theme is highlighting and encouraging people to acknowledge the existence of gender based violence in the world of work including sexual violence in the world of work,” she said.
Navicha added that government is committed to develop the female human resource base on equal basis with that of men through implementation of policies and legal frameworks that focus on promoting safe spaces for women.
Gender Coordination Network (NGOGCN), Barbara Banda said a week does not pass without reading about rape cases and defilement in our communities.
“This is a worrisome development as for the network and other stakeholders who are working towards the elimination of violence against women,” she said
Banda said not long ago the country experienced one of the worst kinds of violations where women and girls from Nsundwe, Mpingu and Mbwatalika trading centres were allegedly sexually harassed by Police officers.
“As we commemorating the 16 days of activism i would urge Malawians to reflect on what each and every one is doing to individually to end GBV,” she said.-MANA