Female journalists in Blantyre and Lilongwe will on Tuesday take to the streets in protest against increased cases of sexual violence and other forms of Gender-Based Violence in the country.
The scribes, trading under the banner Association of Women in Media (AWOME), are concerned that despite various efforts to curb the malpractice, sexual violence against women and girls continues to escalate.
“One of the areas that we need the powers that be to act on is to review the laws in terms of penalties given to perpetrators of the vice. We intend to lobby the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare—which is mandated by the laws to protect women and children in the country— to provide some policy direction on how best as a nation we can stop sexual violence.
“We are not even discussing reduction to the vice. We are now for zero cases,” said Edyth Kambalame, the group’s interim president.
She added that the demonstrations are scheduled to start at 7:30 am in all designated places.
In Blantyre, demonstrators will march from Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital via Masauko Chipembere Highway to Blantyre Civic Offices while in the capital city; marchers will start off from Kamuzu Central Hospital roundabout to Lilongwe Civic Offices.
“On the other hand, we also intend to encourage communities at large to take responsibility in curbing the vice. Among other measures, we want our laws to criminalise anyone shielding perpetrators regardless of what value they hold to them in life. This includes women who tend to shield their abusive husbands for social support,” added Kambalame.
The association comprises female journalists, media trainers, public relations officers and other communication experts both in the country and in the diaspora.
The demonstrations come barely days after social media was awash with news of a defilement case in Chikwawa where a man allegedly grievously injured an 11 year-old-girl while in the act.
The story prompted Minister of Gender Patricia Kaliati and Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara, among other senior government officials and activists, to visit the victim where she offered moral and relevant social support to her.
Both President Lazarus Chakwera and the First Lady, Monica, also condemn the incident.