Dowa District Commissioner (DC) Alex Mdooko has warned communities and chiefs against covering up rape cases or imposing lighter penalties on perpetrators of the offense.
The DC was speaking on the sidelines of child and women rights awareness march which Girls Empowerment Network (GENet) organized at Mponela Trading Centre in the district on Monday.
Mdooko advised chiefs against prosecuting cases of rape at community level but to report the cases to police because they are criminal in nature.
He said rape is a criminal offense which could only be prosecuted by police and urged communities to be vigilant in reporting such cases to the law enforcers to ensure that perpetrators are brought to proper justice.
“Women are dangerous when it comes to keeping secrets, but cases of rape should be exposed. If the cases are reported to traditional leaders, they should in turn take the cases to the police. Suspects should not pay a goat or chickens for this; they should face the law,” the DC explained.
Mdooko advised police and courts to create private and comfortable places where victims could freely express themselves and explain what they have gone through without being shy or without having to swallow some words
Dowa District gender officer for Dowa, Zuwere Ross Mwale said that the increase in gender-based violence cases was alarming.
She pointed out that there was no future for girls if they were not helped hence called out to various stakeholders, including community leaders, to take part in the fight against gender-based violence.
Mponela Police Victim Support Unit (VSU) Coordinator, Inspector Marina Tchoka said parents sometimes expose children to rape by entrusting them with people who they do not fully know or sending them on errands when it is dark.
She urged girls to report to VSUs whenever they are abused or see someone getting abused.