Salima — Some chiefs from the area of T/A Kambwiri in Salima have reiterated that forced marriages for girls is a major common form of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the area.
The chiefs speaking in random interviews, on Tuesday at Lifidzi on the sideline of a workshop on GBV organized by National Association of People Living with HIV in Malawi (Napham), said the trend is also increasing HIV transmission among the girls.
“A major form of GBV common in this area is forced early marriages, which perpetrated on girls by either their parents or their guardians,” said Group Village Head Kumenya.
The chief said that the trend is also fueling the spread of HIV as the arranged marriages do not follow any caution measures such as going for HTC.
“Usually these children are married out to older men who had been married before or indulge in practices that puts them at risk of catching HIV, therefore they put these children at the same risk,” said the chief.
Group Village Mzembere also said that the practice has prevailed because of ignorance on the part of local leaders on Gender Based Violence and the law.
“I believe that we as chiefs have failed to stop this violence mainly because of ignorance, which has resulted into us failing to know difference between gender violence and the acceptable traditional practices or beliefs as a result when administering primary justice we have treated issues that according to law are categorized as violence as acceptable practices,” said Mzembere.
The chief explained that this failure of chiefs to punish or refer these cases to police or courts has resulted in the continued violence on the girl child.
He said with the training and skills imparted by Napham the chiefs will be proactive to ensure that all forms of GBV are minimized or stopped.
Napham organized the workshop as part of a two year project called ‘Positive voices against Gender Based Violence in Malawi.’
In an interview Napham District Coordinator Yanjano Mbendera said that the project is targeting community leaders, and other structures deemed crucial in the fight against GBV.
“We have targeted chiefs, Police officers mostly those working in the Victim Support Unit, Magistrates and reporters,” said Mbendera
Mbendera said that creating awareness among these key stakeholders will reduce GBV tremendously in the sense that the officials or leaders will be proactive in playing their roles.
From: Malawi News Agency
By Watson Maingo, 2 July 2014