Association of Women in Media (Awome) has called on President Lazarus Chakwera to weigh in on escalating cases of sexual harassment in the country.
The association made the call in Mzuzu on Saturday after its Northern Region members demonstrated in the city’s streets against increasing cases of rape and defilement.
The demonstration was held in solidarity with their colleagues from Lilongwe and Blantyre who held their protest march on Tuesday.
Just this week, Mzuzu registered four cases of defilement, including that of a 10-year-old is battling for her life at Mzuzu Central Hospital. The girl, who was raped on her way from school, has already undergone two procedures.
In an interview, one the organisers of the event Angela Mkandawire from Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), called upon Chakwera to address the nation on the issue.
She said journalists are tired of writing stories on rape and defilement without corresponding action from duty bearers.
“We are demanding stiff punishment to offenders. The 14 years maximum sentence for defilers is way too little. We want life sentences to deter others to,” she said.
Mkandawire said the journalists have since petitioned the Minister of Gender to review some of the policies.
“Those that conceal perpetrators should also be prosecuted,” she said.
Grace Mtawali, representing Women Lawyers in the region, said they are proposing a legal review of the laws on defilement because the current ones are not deterrent.
“We also want the recognition of defilers as paedophiles because that is what they are in other jurisdictions,” she said.
The demonstrations were supported by Glam ladies and SOS Children’s Village to show their concern on the rising cases of rape and defilement.
Speaking after receiving the petition, Mzuzu City chief executive officer Gomegzani Nyasulu said the council is equally concerned about the trend in the city and across the country.