“As Long as We Marginalize Women, the Issue of GBV Will Not End”

Cultivating a Culture of Peace Through addressing the Rape Culture in Malawi

In December, Malawian civic society and youth gathered for a virtual meeting to raise awareness on the rape culture in the country in light of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

The event facilitated by the Heavenly Culture World Peace and Restoration of Light (HWPL) and its affiliate organizations the International Peace Youth Group (IPYG) and the International Women’s Peace Youth Group (IWPG), sought to raise awareness of these human rights abuses and to sensitize the global community.

The panel of speakers included the Director of Women for the Malawi Congress Party and Former MP, Honourable Patricia Omega Mkanda; Editor in Chief of AfricaBrief, Winston Mwale, Human Rights Defender Phindu Banda and the National Coordinator for the Human Rights Defenders Coalition in Malawi, Luke Tembo.

Malawi observed the 16 Days of Activism against GBV under the theme “Unite to End Gender-Based Violence: Prevent, Report, Respond, Fund!” The focus to be prioritized is to fund essential services for GBV and ensure a national zero-tolerance policy on GBV as well as developing effective response mechanisms.

During the presentation, Hon. Mkanda highlighted the measures the government was taking to empower women in Malawi, “We are grateful for the National Economic Empowerment Act, which will be giving loans to women, so they are empowered economically, she said.

“You can only stand if you are empowered economically and have the knowledge and the resources, if women were being marginalized, the issues of GBV would not end,” she added.

As part of the solutions to ending the rape culture in Malawi, Human Rights Defender, Ms Phindu Banda said, “It is very important to report cases because you set a precedent, to make it known that we will not stand and watch as these violations happen, that perpetrators will not be allowed to go free.”

She added that “it is also important to respond, every sector has an obligation to respond to issues of gender-based violence.”

According to the United Nations' Gender Inequality Index, which measures women's rights and freedoms, Malawi ranks 145 out of 188 countries.

Furthermore, about 38% of Malawian women between the ages of 15 and 49 have experienced sexual violence at least once in their lives.

“Our country has had a culture of silence, but this is changing, as journalists are now reporting these issues in Malawi and hence it seems like we have an increase in cases,” said the Editor in Chief of AfricaBrief, Winston Mwale.

“Media is able to report so stakeholders can take action and as a result of one of the stories that were reported recently, a lot of people called on the government to act on the violence and abuses,” he added.

Through the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW), which promotes the peace journalism model in Article 10 of the DPCW, HWPL resolved to collaborate with Malawian organization to create educational workshops on gender-sensitive reporting as well as dismantling gender myths and stereotypes on GBV.

* Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW) drafted by international law experts from 15 different countries was proclaimed on 14 March 2016 and aims to establish peace as an international norm and culture.