Sugar plantation areas register high rate of gender-based violence against women with about 10-15 cases reported every three months, Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU) has disclosed.
The disclosure was made during a commemoration of International Women’s Day by Hotel Food Processing and Catering Workers Union (HFPCMU), an affiliate to MCTU in Blantyre on Friday.
The event which was preceded by a big walk, attracted several MCTU affiliates include Sugar Plantation and Allied Workers Union of Malawi (SPAWUM), Tobacco and Allied Workers Union of Malawi (T0AWUM), Commercial Industrial and Allied Workers Union (CIAWU), Transport and General Union, Security Union and Building Union.
Speaking during the event, MCTU Treasurer General, Mary Dzinyemba disclosed that some of workplace gender-based violence cases are not reported as most women choose not to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.
“Sugar plantation areas register more cases because of high illiteracy rate. Most employers enjoy taking advantage of their illiterate employees. And most of cases are suppressed as the victims prefer to protect their jobs; eventually they are constantly abused by their bosses,” Dzinyemba explained.
MCTU has adopted gender policy, which according to Dzinyemba is used to offer advice and methodologies to end gender-based violence against women in workplaces.
Dzinyemba who is also General Secretary for CIAWU disclosed that MCTU has trained educators who offer counseling to affected women and assisting in implementing the gender policy as well as setting up women departments within the affiliates.
“We have specific program to tackle issues of gender-based violence at workplace through which, we civic educate women on their rights and how they can handle such incidents. International Women’s Day events offer a platform for us to speak out our views and brainstorm on how we can tackle the problem of gender-based violence,” she added.
The event was funded by International Union of Food (IUF) under the theme; a Promise is a Promise, Time for Action to End Violence against Women. This year, International Women’s Day was commemorated on March 8, but HFPCMU shifted it to March 14th because of logistic problems.
During the event, the participants complained of courts being lenient on punishments on cases of gender-based violence against women.