The empowerment of the girl child, her rights and protection have always been a major discussion in the world, especially in Africa. For a long time, women have always been perceived as the weaker vessel, and so have been subjugated and oppressed by culture in most African societies.
The African cultures and traditions have greatly affected feminism; the woman’s rights and her protection. Women and girl children residing in some parts of Africa, Malawi inclusive, are more affected because they have little or no protection at all. They also don’t have access to education—whether quality or otherwise. Thus, the culture is defined by inequality and the subjugation of the female folk.
Gender-based violence (GBV), including rape, domestic violence and other sexual abuses, has assumed serious dimensions globally. In Malawi, incidences of rape are fast assuming a threatening dimension that requires urgent intervention. Rape, like other forms of violence against women, is an infringement of women’s rights, privacy, self-preservation and dignity.
Rape is the act of forcefully having sex with someone against their will. Others have defined rape as a sexual penetration by one person against another person without the consent of the victim. However, victims of rape have no age limit as babies and the aged are vulnerable to this menace. Rape is a denial of women self-preservation; an intrusion of their privacy, it is an inhumane and violent act. Rape victims are usually ashamed, humiliated, afraid, and there is little or no law to protect them. Even the law enforcement officers that are meant to protect these victims also assault them in different ways, even sexually, as evidenced at Msundwe, where women and girls were reportedly sexually abused by police officers.
The issue of rape is not an abstract issue as it has unveiled its ugly mask in every society. And how do we describe the brutal nature of this shameless masquerade in Malawi and Africa as whole? What is it about our societies that makes the female gender vulnerable to all sorts of abuse, specifically rape? What could have triggered the increase in recent times? What could have caused perpetrators to sexually assault their victims?
These questions are not easily answered, because in rape cases, questions are easily asked but answers are much more difficult and inconvenient find. The closest thing to an answer is a cold shoulder and the emotional reaction that one receives when the issue is mentioned. It is understandable when there is an emotional response, but that is not enough. There is need to get to the root of the matter and understand it by undertaking an in-depth research so as to make well-informed actions. Otherwise, we will remain in the dark on how to curb this scourge and the alarming rates witnessed in recent times.
As the 16 Days of Activism Against GBV have ended recently, let us not stop the activism. Let us all join hands and terminate this monster called rape and all other acts of violation against women.