CHIRADZULU, Malawi – A group of local religious leaders has condemned the escalating incidences of violence against women, girl children and other vulnerable groups in the country, describing the trend as horrifying and abhorrent.
The religious leaders under Religious Network for Choice (RNC) say the state of rape, defilement and general violence against women, girl children and babies in Malawi is unprecedented.
In a statement read at a media conference in Chiradzulu on Thursday, they observed that the surging violence against women and girls casts a dark shadow on the direction of the country in terms of respect for human rights and dignity.
The statement bemoans the debasement of women and girl children by people whose daily calling is to care for fellow human beings.
“We have walked with, and listened to, the voices of the survivors of the abuses and we are deeply troubled with these acts of dehumanization of humans by their fellow human beings,” says the religious leaders in a statement signed by RNC chairperson Rev Fr. Martin Kalimbe and Publicity Secretary Bishop Amos Tchuma.
The faith group demands a stop to the violence, appealing to various sections of society to deliver on their responsibility to protect women and children from abuse.
The statement calls on the Government to deliver on its constitutional mandate and international commitments and crackdown on vices and ensure safe spaces for the reintegration into society of those that have already been victimized.
“We call upon our legislators to consider formulating laws that will provide a lasting remedy to survivors of rape, defilement, incest and all other forms of GBV,” said the faith leaders.
They demand criminalization of gender-based violence, making it an unpardonable crime.
The faith leaders also appealed to other faith leaders in the country to admonish and ban all forms of preaching in their religious communities which encourages the demonization of women based on their dressing and status.
According to the network, such preaching feeds into the evil thinking of rapists and defilers and exacerbates the vulnerability of women and children.
They also urge fellow faith leaders to understand the connection between rape, incest and defilement to unwanted pregnancies which are imposed on innocent girls.
“We urge the leaders to therefore deeply reflect on the factual evidence that informs the proposed bill on the termination of pregnancies,” reads the statement.
To members of society, FLNC urges them to be mindful of their responsibility to prevent and fight against sexual and gender-based violence.
“This is not an option; it is integral to our daily calling of caring for our neighbours,” they say.
The surge of violence against women and children in the country in the year has led to a number of public protests by women rights activists and organizations demanding increased protection of women and girls by the state and others.
President Lazarus Chakwera reacted by forming a task force which has come up with a National Plan of Action Against Rape and Defilement. The taskforce presented the action plan to Chakwera this week.
In his statement at the function, the President said the state of violence against women and children in Malawi is a product of “moral bankruptcy.”
“The situation the country is in is a symptom of a disease known as moral bankruptcy, which is being manifested in cases of rape, defilement and gender-based violence,” said Chakwera, urging Malawian to give this disease a strong cure.