By Kenson McCloud
Government says it is concerned with the rising cases of gender-based violence in the country despite its various efforts and interventions to end the vice.
The sentiments come as the country is set to the join the rest of the world in commemorating 16 Days of Activism commencing on 25th of November under the theme: “Unite! Activism to End Gender Based Violence in Malawi”.
According to police reports, the country registered a 16.7% increase in cases of violence in the past 12 months.
The cases have increased from 13,002 in 2021 to 15,178 in 2022.
Explicitly, the police recorded 2,507 cases of physical violence, 119 cases of rape, 1,155 cases of defilement, 158 cases of child neglect and 208 cases of suicide.
Over the years, the country has seen a number of legal frameworks for empowering and protecting women and the girl-child being developed and implemented, including The Child Care, Protection and Justice Act, The Gender Equality Act, The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and The Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act.
Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati, described the figures as “very worrisome”, therefore urgent action is necessary.
"Women continue to face various kinds of abuse which needs urgent action," she said
Kaliati said apart from the current interventions, government intends to increase male participation in the fight against gender-based violence and will soon launch the National Male Engagement Strategy on Gender Equality, Gender-Based Violence, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and HIV.
"In recognizing the need to engage men and boys in the fight against gender based violence and the advancement of gender equality, my ministry with support from stakeholders has finalized the development of the National Male Engagement Strategy on Gender Equality, GBV, SRHR and HIV which will be launched in due course," she said.
The minister also said it is important to recognize that men are equally facing abuse as evidenced by the increase in the rate of suicide cases among men.
Kaliati said, "it is without a doubt that men face various kinds of gender based violence as noted from the high suicide case records although reporting is still low. Power dynamics coupled with patriarchy and negative masculinities prevent men from reporting when they are faced with gender based violence. Efforts need to be taken to ensure that no one is left behind in as far as ending gender based violence is concerned."
However, Non-Governmental Organisation Coalition on Child Rights observes that there is still a knowledge gap among the masses which is fuelling the rise in the cases.
Executive Director for the organization, Desmond Mhango, says there is need to implement activities that will run beyond the 16 days to ensure the messages are escalated to a larger audience.