Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare , Patricia Kaliati has expressed “concern “ over increasing rates of defilement and child trafficking in the country, the vices it says frustrates efforts to properly develop the children into full potential.
Speaking the during commemoration of 2015 International Literacy Day held at Yamba Primary School, in the area of Traditional Authority Mwaulambia in Chitipa District, Kaliati called the rise in sexual crime a “concern”.
Kaliati observed that defilement, child traffic coupled by forced early marriages have become worst form of human rights abuses, especially on a girl child.
Said Kaliati: “Government is so concerned that girls in most parts of Malawi are subjected to abuses that range from defilement, child trafficking and being pushed into early marriages, which is a paramount violation to their rights to education.”
Kaliati, however, blamed the rampant cases of abuse of girls rights especially defilement on lenient penalties meted out by the courts on defilement suspects.
”The only way to curb this barbaric practices is to impose stiffer penalty on the suspects to scare away those who intend to commit the same offenses,” said Kaliati, attracting applause from women folks.
The Minister then coaxed state prosecutors and magistrates to collaborate in settling for maximum penalties for defilement and child traffic suspects.
Marriage, Divorce and Family Reactions Act, which Parliament passed recently, criminalizes marriages involving girls below the ages 18 years and a husband and all that took part in arranging such marriages are attracting life imprisonment as maximum penalty, similar to a punishment child trafficking suspect would go away with under Section 79 of Child Care Protection and Justice Act .
Kaliati then commended NGO, Malawi Human Right resource Center (MHRRC) for its commitment in fighting for the rights of women and a girl child.
“As government, we acknowledge and applause efforts by MHRR in fighting for the rights of women and girls, especially in the areas of gender based violence (GBVs), which is a big relief to us,” said Kaliati.
In her remarks, MHRRC Programme Manger, Emma Kalia said her organization will continue complementing government efforts in promoting the welfare of women and children.
Kaliya, also Chair person for Gender Coordinating Network, however, pleaded with government to engage traditional leaders, who are custodians of culture, to re-fine or do away with cultural practices that undermine the dignity of a girl child, such as ‘lobola’
Said Kalia:“ Most families push little girls into child marriages to improve household economy through dowry wealth under a practice known as ‘lobola’
Kaliati emphasized on the need for parents to encourage their little girls to remain in school so that they become self reliant and responsible citizens of Malawi.
She described education as the best empowerment a girl child would want to live an independent and sustainable life.
She also strongly appealed to people who missed basic education during their childhood to enroll with functional classes to acquire knowledge that will help them venture into business that will improve their household economy.
“When you are literate, you will be able to venture into various enterprises that will render you self reliant, and this will exempt you from over dependency on husbands as bread winners and you will not be victims of domestic violence,” Kaliati told the women.
Chitipa District Commissioner, Grace Chirwa hailed government for introducing adult literacy classes, a programme she said was strategic in the enhancement of socioeconomic development of the nation.
She said it were only literate citizens who can ably and significantly contribute to the development of the nation.
During the function, cerebrated under the Theme: ‘Literacy, Foundation for Sustainable Societies’ the National Library which has all along been supporting adult literacy programme, donated supplementary books and novels to Yamba Primary School to the tune of K1.5 million.
The day’s function was marked by displays from women in business, samples of adult literacy classes, issuance of certificates to adult literacy graduates, testimonies by old graduates, drama, poem recital, traditional dances, all disseminating messages on the benefits of functional classes.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :