Malawi hosts international conference on ending gender-based violence

Offline and online internet facilities have posed a new challenge to efforts to combat sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) across the globe, delegates to the seventh Kigali International Conference Declaration (KICD) have observed.

Torres:The problem is worsened by government’s failure to detect the problem on time–Photo by Watipso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

Over 100 security agents, gender and women’s rights experts from Africa and beyond are converging in Lilongwe to discuss the role of the security agencies and the community in combating child online and offline sexual exploitation and gender-based violence.

The delegates are expected to brainstorm on the new challenges in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and find solutions for the same.

KICD focuses on the involvement of the security organs or the police in the process of the combating violence against women and girls (VAWG) since such organs are the first-respondents in cases of violence and have a key role to play in the prevention, prosecution of perpetrators and protection of victims/survivors of violence.

The United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres, expressed concern that advancement in technology and fast penetration of internet facilities is also leading to the escalation of SGBV across the world.

“All over the world, this problem [SGBV] has gone too far because of the power of the internet and communications and failure by governments (security agencies) to detect the problem on time and deal with perpetrators of cyber crimes. Perpetrators are unfortunately using the internet to lure the kids across the globe to be exposed to pornographic materials. I think we are very late to tackle this issue [problem],” said Torres.

She said it is for this reason that the UN is working with security agencies to find a lasting solution to cyber crimes to protect the children from uncensored materials.

“Security organs are absolutely crucial in responding to reports of VAWG, in ensuring safety of the victims/survivors. Security agents have a duty in securing the proper collection of evidence that will later make it possible to charge offenders, in taking measures to prevent future acts of violence, including the issuance of restraining orders and referral of victims to additional services such as crisis centers or shelters,” Torres emphasised.

The Inspector General of the Malawi Police Service, Rodney Jose, admitted that child online and offline sexual exploitation has become a hard nut to crack among security agencies in the country and across the borders.

“It is clear that sexual exploitation and GBV remain common forms of violence against women and girls across Africa. There is no doubt that the problem has increased due to the increase in online platforms. As such, security institutions need to be vigilant in the fight against this vice, both jointly and as individual institutions,” said Jose.

In his remarks, the Minister of Homeland Security, Nicholas Dausi, said one out of every three women throughout the world experience physical and/or sexual violence by a partner or sexual violence by non-partner.

However, Dausi said Malawi is making strides in ending the vice through enforcement of various Acts of Parliament.

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