Scores of activists yesterday took the streets of the capital Lilongwe and expressed outrage over the recent spate of gender based violence incidents across the country with a peaceful protest.
The colorful solidarity march started from Area 18 roundabout from around 8 am walking towards the City Centre where placards- carrying supporters and sympathizers of women victims of the recent incidents chanting and dancing in a carnival atmosphere.
Some high profile members of the society in attendance included speaker of the national assembly, Richard Msowoya, members of Parliament (MPs) Bon Kalindo, Jessie Kabwila and representatives of several civil society organisations including development charity Oxfam which organized the march.
There were also ordinary Malawians and interestingly, commercial sex workers whose representatives also joined the bandwagon of the activists lamenting violence against women. Several of the sex workers narrated their own ordeals.
The march culminated in a handover of a petition to government at Civic Offices premises which was received by the Deputy Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Clement Mkumbwa.
Some of the placards hit at the perpetrators of the violence and called for more measures to tackle the victimization of the women; some bearing messages such as “Great men have power to stop other men who commit violence against women and girls” and another read: Nkhaza za m’banja sizokambirana kaneneni ku polisi.”
Msowoya who is also a HeforShe champion alongside President Peter Mutharika, while decrying the recent attacks, said the overwhelming public response demonstrated through the protests signaled the country was ready to turn the page on the sad chapter.
He called for a national strategy to push back on the incidents saying a review of the laws and instruments needed in the fight against violence on women was needed.
“It is thus time for a strategy to be put in place that will ensure that supreme law of the land, namely the penal code, as well as all the existing gender related laws; such as the gender equality act; that criminalize sexual harassment as well as harmful practices against women, the Prevention of Domestic Violence, the Trafficking in Persons Act and the Marriage Divorce and Family Relations Act are decentralized and Implemented,” said Msowoya.
Speaking on behalf of executive branch of government, the deputy minister said government is committed to end Gender Based Violence in the country.
Earlier, Oxfam Country Director John Makina condemned the recent incidents as “horrific, unfortunate and barbaric” urging consolidated action by all stakeholders as a counter measure.
“Oxfam believes that Gender Based Violence has no place in Malawi’s democracy,” said Makina.
Among the most shocking incidents include a brutal murder of Mirriam Siula, a Lilongwe based 30-year-old recently stabbed to death by her jealousy ex-boyfriend.