Seven days after the Universal 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, we have received with sadness, a report of yet another one of our own shot in the capital city of Malawi, Lilongwe.
A few months ago, we received another report of women violated by none other than those assigned to protect us.
Last year, we were slapped in the face with the case of a young girl violated in police custody.
We continue to live with all these murderers and perpetrators roaming free because that is what we do here in Malawi, we let violent perpetrators and rapists roam the streets free.
The current environment around violence against women and girls in Malawi presents us, as women with multiple moments of comprehension as we remain feeling a sense of helplessness as to where to go now.
We are under attack in Malawi and it seems we are the only ones who care because if that were not the case, something would have changed by now, if Malawi cared enough about women’s protection, rapists would not roam the streets free because there was no ‘collaborative’ evidence.
A term often used to justify the doubt around each and every rape case presented to the Malawi Police, nearly each and every intervention to end violence against women and girls has a clause to involve the police, the justice system and male allies, the three factions who uphold the biggest barrier in ending the violence against women and girls.
We are encouraged to report cases of violence, in return we receive report of cases where perpetrators paid their way out of prosecution, so now we are stuck not knowing who to turn to when the police are either the perpetrators themselves or the receiving ends of bribes.
Chapter 7 of Penal Code of Malawi states;
– Any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent if the consent is obtained by force or means of threats or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of bodily harm, or by means of false representations as to the nature of the act, or in the case of a married woman, by personating her husband, shall be guilty of the felony termed rape.
– Any person who unlawfully and indecently assaults any woman or girl shall be guilty of a felony and shall be liable to imprisonment for fourteen years, with or without corporal punishment.
-Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture or exhibits any object intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and shall be liable to imprisonment for one year.
– Any person who, with intent to maim, disfigure or disable any person, or to do some grievous harm to any person, or to resist or prevent the lawful arrest or detention of any person—
(a) unlawfully wounds or does any grievous harm to any person by any means whatever; or
(b) unlawfully attempts in any manner to strike any person with any kind of projectile or with a spear, sword, knife, or other dangerous or offensive weapon; … shall be guilty of a felony, and shall be liable to imprisonment for life.
I persistently say, we, the women are alone in this fight because it is evident in the rising numbers of cases over the years of women being brutalised and the unenthusiastic response of the nation to protect women and girls as citizens of the country let alone human beings. We are under attack.