23 September 2018
Breaking News

Eliminating violence through activism

Written by  Memory Kutengule

Blantyre, November 10, 2017: Mercy Mkonda (not real name), 37, regrets marrying her husband Dziko saying her once happy family is now the devil’s backyard.   

“The only time we share jokes is when he seeks conjugal rights. Otherwise, every time he tries to fault me just to insult and beat me up for no apparent reason. He usually threatens me not to report to anyone or I will lose my life,” complains the mother of two. 

Mercy, who hails from Manje in Blantyre, got married in 2007 and lived a joyful life until January this year when her life turned upside down.

She suspects that the genesis of her marriage problems is because her husband lost his job as a shop keeper at one of the Asian owned shops in Limbe.

 “When he lost the job, he started behaving strangely. He started taking a lot of alcohol and at times he could spend nights at drinking joints situated miles away from our home,’ she explains.

Mercy narrates that on August 7, 20l7 at around 8: 00 pm, she nearly lost her life after her husband beat her to pulp with a metal stick. 

“On this day, he gave me K200 to buy vegetables.  When he returned from his drinking escapades around 6: 00 pm he found that the table was not set and instead of asking, he dressed me down publicly.

“Worst still, he poured on me the water which I prepared for Nsima and hit me heavily with a metal stick and chased me out of the house,” she says.

Mercy adds that had it not been that her children alerted the neighbors who helped her, she could have been dead by now.

According to Mercy, her neighbor has been advising her to report these acts of gender based violence to the police but she feels doing so will put her life in danger.

Violence against women is understood as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women which takes the form of physical, sexual, psychological or economical abuses.

The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against women states that violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women.

Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations declared in a 2006 GBV report posted on the United Nations Development Fund for Women website that violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions.

The report states that at least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in their life-time, with the perpetrator usually being someone they know.

To preside over the commemoration in Mzumba: Dr. Jean Kalirani

Malawi Police Service (MPS) 20l6 statistics for GBV and domestic violence indicate that l0, 745 cases were reported in the first half of the year.

MPS National Police Public Relations Officer (PRO), James Kadadzera says emotional violence was estimated at 7,22l, with 3,554 cases being registered in the Southern Region.

“The National record by Victim Support registered l, 039 cases of physical violence.  Sexual violence had 6l7 cases, economic violence stood at l, 868 and 7,22l were reported for emotional violence,” he says.

Government ratified a number of conventions including that on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women to contribute towards creating a protective environment for women and children.

Taking her turn, spokesperson for Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Lucy Bandazi says government has put in place mechanisms to prevent, reduce and eliminating GBV in the country.

The mechanisms include collaborative work with different stakeholders such as faith and community based leaders.

Another way is to demonstrate its commitment to meeting the requirements of various international and national instruments in addressing GBV.

This year, Malawi joins the rest of the world in observing l6 days of activism against GBV which was initiated in 1991 by the first Women's Global Leadership Institute.

The campaign is conducted annually under different themes that they raise awareness on elimination of gender related violence among women and girls.

The theme for this year’s campaign, which runs from 25 November to 10 December, is “Leave no one behind: end violence against women and children.”

Chairperson for nongovernmental organization Gender Coalition Network Emma Kaliya says much as the country seems to be making progress in fighting GBV, cases of gender related violence continue to occur at an increasing rate.

“The occurrence of such incidences is a clear indication that there is need for increased awareness and reporting   to sustain the campaign until we achieve a violent free Malawian society,” says Kaliya who is also acting director of Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre (MHRRC).

Mercy’s scenario is just one reported case but it is a clear testimony of many unreported cases of GBV taking place across the country that need to be looked into and stopped for the betterment of humanity.

Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Dr. Jean Kalirani will preside over the launch of 2017 '16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence' Campaign at Mzimba Community Centre Ground on 25th November 2017.