Mobile Courts Tackle Backlog of Gender-Based Violence Cases in Malawi
OSSEDI aims to tackle gender-based violence in Malawi with mobile court sessions and support for survivors through business start-ups-Racheal Mkotama.
Malawi: The Organization for Sustainable Socio-Economic Development Initiative (OSSEDI) is running mobile courts in Malawi to clear a backlog of court cases and to end gender-based violence in the country, writes Racheal Mkotama.
With support from the Spotlight Initiative, the mobile courts are operating in Traditional Authority Nkula and Ngokwe in Machinga.
The goal of OSSEDI is to bring justice to victims of gender-based violence through mobile court sessions and to empower survivors with start-ups for small-scale businesses.
"Our objective is to bring justice to gender-based violence through mobile court sessions and economically empower sexual and gender-based violence survivors," said Project Officer Ethel Chadza.
In the second phase of the project, they settled nine defilement cases in the two T/As in Machinga.
Despite the success of the mobile courts, the organization faces challenges, such as witnesses refusing to testify in court.
To overcome these challenges, OSSEDI works with the Gender Office, the police, community leaders, and other partners in the district.
Parents of survivors have also spoken about the benefits of OSSEDI's support, such as financial support for starting businesses and knowing where to report cases of gender-based violence.
According to one of the children who were defiled, the traumatic experience affected her life because people in her community and at her school were rough with her.
"After being defiled, I became pregnant and had to stop going to school, which has really affected my education," she explained. However, the introduction of mobile courts has helped her immensely.
"They arrested the person who defiled me, and the organization encouraged me to go back to school after giving birth.”
Another mother, whose child is a survivor of defilement, expressed gratitude for the support provided by OSSEDI.
"I have managed to start a small business where I sell tomatoes, something I could not do on my own, but now I am able to feed my family and buy basic needs for my children," she said.
Similarly, a man, whose daughter was also defiled, said the support from OSSEDI has helped them greatly.
"At first, we were not aware of where we could report any cases of gender-based violence, but now we know where to report. We have also received financial support, which we use to do business and feed our families," he added.
Child protection worker Robert Kaphulusa commended the project for helping many people in the community recognize and report defilement and gender-based violence cases.
"Through the mobile courts, we have been able to change some people's mindsets, as some have confessed that they did not know that having non-consensual sex with a woman was against the laws," he disclosed.
OSSEDI is implementing the project in six districts, namely Machinga, Nsanje, Mzimba, Nchisi, Dowa, and Nkhata Bay.