Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Gotani Hara has urged Malawians to step up the fight against sexual abuses against women and girls by reporting perpetrators to law enforcement agencies.
The Speaker said this at Parliament Building in Lilongwe yesterday when she opened the third session of Children’s Parliament. The three-day summit has brought together representatives from Dowa District.
Her remarks come amid reports of escalating cases of sexual abuse in the country which have forced several women’s groups to take to the streets in protest, demanding stiffer penalties for offenders, among other things.
Said Gotani Hara : “If you notice that someone is defiling his step-child and you keep quiet, it means that you don’t love this country.
“My appeal is that if you see a woman, a child or a man being abused, let’s do our best to protect them.”
She further advised the communities against relying on security agencies alone, saying citizens, too, have a role to play in protecting girls.
Said the Speaker: “Let’s regard these agencies as secondary. The first to protect the girl-child should be ourselves. By this I don’t mean that we should take the law into our own hands.”
On his part, Dowa Children’s Parliament speaker Damien Baraka said some of the issues they will discuss include how to end teen pregnancies and early child marriages.
“After deliberations, we will submit proposals to authorities on how to address the challenges which children face. It is our expectation that government will act on them,” he said.
Plan International Malawi, World Vision Malawi and When the Saints are among the organisations that have organised the Children’s Parliament session which aims to give children a platform to discuss some of the challenges they face in their lives.