Young people and co-workers from SOS Children’s Villages Malawi, Mzuzu Family Based Care, joined the Association of Women in Media (Northern Region Chapter) on a solidarity march, to add their voice to condemn the rising cases of child sexual abuse and gender based violence in the country.

Of late, both mainstream and social media has been awash with news of defilement, rape, sexual assault, and of course various forms of gender based violence mainly affecting children, girls and women. This has forced different development actors to design interventions aimed at raising awareness on the negative effects of these vices.

The protesters, many of them young women and girls carried  carried banners and placards that read: “Violence against women is an offense, not a private issue,” “They are girls not your sex toys, I stand against it;” and “Mothers and guardians, stop shielding rapists!”

 The march culminated in the presentation of a petition to government through Mzuzu City Council. In the petition, the protesters demanded that prosecution of child sexual abuses and gender based violence cases needs to be expedited and that perpetrators must be given stiffer punishments to deter would be offenders.

Angela Mkandawire, the Chair of Association of Women in Media (Northern Region Chapter), said they will organise many events aimed at raising awareness about issues of child abuse and gender based violence as well as informing people where to report such cases.

“Increased awareness results into more victims reporting violent incidents to law enforcement agencies for further prosecution and punishments to the perpetrators. This is one way of deterring some offenders in the process reducing such incidences.” She said.

Both child sexual abuse and gender based violence in Malawi are offenses punishable by a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

SOS Children’s Villages, Mzuzu Programme also contributed financial support to the Association of Women in Media (Northern Region Chapter) for this event.