Executive Director for the Center for the Development of People (CEDEP), Gift Trapece accompanied by Rev. McDonald Sembereka this week had a tough time to convince District Executive Committee (DEC) members in Mulanje to give them a go-ahead with a minority rights centered project called Access to Justice.
Among other things the project seeks to improve chances of minority groups members such as the gay to be treated with a human face when they go to law enforcement institutions mainly the Malawi Police with complaints related or not related to gayism.
Addressing the DEC meeting which was highly attended by heads of department at Mulanje Police Station, Trapece said a baseline survey by CEDEP revealed that members of the minority groups are sometimes ignored or treated with contempt at Police Stations in the country even when they go to report on issues of internal security.
Upon hearing that the project is favoring minority rights, the house took a lengthy and tiresome discussion in which many members argued that the project should be implemented elsewhere and Mulanje should be given time to see what its real intention is.
However, the project was accepted later in the day after a cross-section of the house reminded each other that CEDEP was implementing another minority rights project in the district which has registered a number of successes in the health sector, under the Sir Elton John Foundation.
In an interview after the meeting, Trapece’s comment was more or less a sigh of relief, indicating that the debate was healthy for information sharing, and that it signified that members of the Mulanje DEC truly represent views of the people in the district.
In his sentiments, Rev. Sembereka emphasized that the project is not intended to advocate for gayism or encourage women to become lesbians but rather protecting individuals from violence and torture adding the minority groups have rights like any other person.
CEDEP is to implement the Access to Justice Project in ten districts of the country, among them Mangochi, Salima, Blantyre and others, and Mulanje happens to be the first district for the organization to approach.