Scores of demonstrators have marched through the streets of the capital city Lilongwe to denounce what they describe as escalating violence against women in politics ahead of the country’s watershed tripartite elections in May this year.
The women rights activists and organisations led by the NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGO-GCN) on Tuesday took to the streets to oppose increasing cases of political violence notably against the opposition sympathisers
And the straying of the political violence to some women has raised fears that efforts to promote women participation in politics would be in vain.
The NGO-GCN and its fellow activists cite the recent case of one Veronica Katunga, a UTM party member who was undressed and harassed by suspected regime thugs in the lakeshore district of Mangochi.
They also put into the equation the torching of a vehicle belonging to Agnes Nyalonje who is a UTM party parliamentarian and senior member.
As if that is not enough, the activists also bemoan the incident in which ruling party zealots barred UTM party Secretary General Patricia Kaliati from entering Parliament.
“We demand an immediate end to this shameful violence against women in politics,” reiterated NGO-GCN Chairperson Barbra Banda as she presented a petition to Lilongwe District Commissioner Lawford Palani.
The three-paged petition has paragraphs specifically addressed to President Peter Mutharika, the Inspector General of Police and the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare.
Activists were chosen to read out portions in the petition meant for the singled out authorities.
“As a global champion for the He for She campaign, President Mutharika must come out of his cocoon and demonstrate his effectiveness by denouncing political violence against women in politics in Malawi,” read out activist Unandi Banda.
Chipped in fearless activist Beatrice Mateyu: “We are surprised by the police inaction over these unprecedented incidences of political violence against women. We demand the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of this violence”.
Hundreds of Malawians joined the NGO-GCN and the other activists in the protest to condemn violence against women in politics and cheered their lead activists as they took turns in calling for an end to the malpractice.
They gathered at the District Commissioner’s office square, forming an impenetrable mass of people.
In black attire, the protesters started off near Crossroads Hotel at about 9:00 AM under the watchful escort of heavily armed law enforcers.
They sang songs and hoisted placards that disparaged perpetrators of violence against women in politics.
One placard read, “If you undress me today, how will I vote for you tomorrow?”.
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