Plan International Malawi and FAM say they are disappointed with continued cyberbullying of Malawi women’s national football team players, especially Tabitha and Temwa Chawinga.
In an interview yesterday, Plan International communications and campaigns manager Rogers Siula said it is pathetic to note that while the Scorchers are shining at the ongoing Cosafa Women’s Championship in South Africa, where they have reached the semi-finals, “some disgruntled social media users have resorted into body shaming and bullying them. This is a demoralising factor to the team, their mental health and self-esteem”.
He said: “Last week we joined hands with the Football Association of Malawi [FAM] in amplifying the campaign to end cyberbullying and harassment.
“This abuse silences girls’ voices, success stories and diminishes their potential to achieve even greater things. Cyberbullying and harrasment is a barrier to their development because it forces them to shy away from cyber spaces thereby denying them opportunities that are available via online platforms.”
Siula said a research which they carried out in 22 countries, reveals that girls are three times more likely to be bullied on social media platforms than boys and adults.
He said: “We need to stop normalising cyberbullying and harrasment, it is evil, it is a crime. We call upon the Malawi Police Service and Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority [Macra] to track down culprits involved in cyber crimes so that people are #FreeToBeOnline.
“In all fairness, Tabitha and Temwa are idols and legendary role models in breaking stereotypes that have long limited the potential the girl child holds. Malawi is lucky to have them and, therefore, Malawians should celebrate their breakthroughs and excellence.”
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu tweeted @wn: “Hands off Tabitha. She is naturally talented . Stay away from our girls, don’t hate or frustrate them. They are precious.
“We condemn cyberbullying of girls in the strongest sense. This is barbaric.”
Nyamilandu was reacting to a sickening tweet targeting Tabitha. He applauded Plan International for stepping up the campaign against cyberbullying.
Police Inspector General George Kainja recently endorsed Plan International’s #FreeToBeOnline campaign and Siula said they are ready to support the police in combating cyberbullying and harrasment.
Other high-profile figures that have signed the petition against cyber bullying are President Lazarus Chakwera, First Lady Monica Chakwera, and Second Lady Mary Chilima.