As the country was commemorating the International Day of Prayer and Action for child, it was revealed that apart from early child marriages, a study conducted by Malawi Police Service, by July 2018, defilement cases increased by seven percent.
Deputy Inspector General of Police in Administration John Nyondo said most of the perpetrators in such sexual cases were related to the victims.
“Girl child continues to be vulnerable yo sexual violence including child marriages. We should individually or collectively take proactive role of making our society conducive for children,” he said adding that the police service through its community policing and rural police units will continue to work with Non-governmental and governmental institutions, traditional leaders and all key stakeholders to fight violence against children, gender based violence, attacks on people with albimsm, trafficking in person, harmful cultural practices and crime in general.
On child marriages, the 2015-2016 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey, almost one in two girls is married before her 18th birthday.
UNICEF Malawi representative Johannes Wedenig said child marriage is not only a violation of childrens rights to protection but it also endangers the physical and reproductive health of girls.
“Child marriage leads to a withdrawal of girls from school; often before finishing primary education. This traps them in a vicious cycle of poverty. Girls in marriage are at greater risk of abuse and violence.
“Child marriage is a form of sexual violence and a grave violation of childrens rights. UNICEFs mandate is to advocate for the promotion, fulfilment and protection of childrens rights as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said.
Among other things, Secretary for Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Dr. Esmie Kainja said government put enough policies, strategies, programs and interventions to arrest the situation.
“Poverty yes, but cultural beliefs sill remain the main reason behin the victimization of a girl child. People tend to look at a girl child not as a developmental partner but a sexual being. We have hope that soon this tendency will be a thing of the past,” she said.