The Women Lawyers Association of Malawi (WLA) has condemned recent acts of violence against women and children and asked for their protection using the strong existing laws.
The women lawyers have wondered that despite the existence of laws such as the Constitution, the Gender Equality Act that criminalises sexual harassment as well as harmful practices against women, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act that tackles intimate partner and domestic violence, and the Child Care and Protective Justice Act, violence against the vulnerable groups continue to happen in society.
Recently, the media reported incidents in which a former boyfriend killed a woman and a husband battered a wife which the association noted were just a tip of the many acts of violence taking place daily.
“WLA notes with dismay that despite these good laws and strong policies, we as a society still tolerate violent acts to occur and to go unpunished, especially when these acts happen behind closed doors,” WLA president Sarai Chisala-Tempelhof said.
She said it was not enough to tell women what to do to protect themselves, but society needs to talk to both genders—including boys and girls—about gender equality and the harmful effects of violence and healthier ways to have relationships.
Commenting on the incident involving a senior police officer who beat up and injured his wife, WLA urged the police to take the same level of commitment to preventing violence within its ranks and among its officers.
“As a nation we have put our faith in Malawi Police Service to protect women and girls without fear or favour and to ensure that all perpetrators of GBV face prosecution to the fullest extent of the law,” Chisala-Tempelhof said.
The women lawyers also asked the police to protect survivors of gender based violence or intimate partner violence against being subjected to re-victimisation when they seek protection or any form of assistance from the police.
However, the association commended the police for the timely response to the violence acts that were reported in the media and others that were not mentioned.
Said Chisala-Tempelhof: “WLA would like to remind the nation that all forms of abuse and violence against women and children are morally wrong, but are also criminal offences and are punishable by law.
“WLA also denounces the insensitive and damaging way that these vicious and unjustifiable acts have been depicted and discussed across social media platforms.
“The association has since offered free legal assistance for survivors of gender based violence in the form of legal advice, referrals, legal representation, strategic litigation and even private prosecution of perpetrators
“Through the WLA website and Facebook page, the response has been overwhelming making it clear to the association that there is a desperate need for comprehensive victim services.”
She said this was an indication that many women and girls were not aware of victim support services available, including the GBV hotline, 116. n