By James Mwale:
Lack of legal knowledge, retrogressive social norms, and weaknesses in the law enforcement and legal system have been labeled as among leading causes of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the country.
This was brought to light during a Malawi Irish Consortium on Gender Based Violence (MICGBV) panel discussion which was held in Lilongwe Thursday as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence campaign.
Guest of honour at the event, Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati, who was among the panelists challenged that unless every woman and girl, especially those in rural areas are educated on the law and legal procedure that follows gender related abuses, the fight against GBV will never be won.
She said; “We need to take our legislation down to the rural areas. Chiefs have to tell their people (about GBV related legislation) and church elders have to tell their followers. But also, as parliamentarians, we need to be transparent and accountable. We need to be accountable to our people on what we have been sent to do because we are the ones who pass the legislation.”
Traditional Authority Mlolo added that some most GBV cases die naturally when reported to police, while some are not prosecuted to conviction stage due to the victims’ lack of legal knowledge on how to proceed with cases.
She said some cases are never followed to completion due to insufficient workforce in the law enforcement and legal system which effects a backlog of unprosecuted cases.
She has since proposed that government should introduce a special scholarship that would enable those capable to study law to increase the workforce.
She also blamed escalating GBV cases on some social norms such as cultural and religious beliefs which she said place women in inferior social status and thus prevents them from speaking out to relevant authorities when undergoing abuse.
Irish Ambassador to Malawi, Seamus O’Grady, said gender equality is fundamental human right which should be given the accordingly attention, especially if Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be attained.
He has called for coordination and commitment from all relevant stakeholders to work together and put an end to GBV saying the time is now.