First Lady Madam, Prof. Gertrude Mutharika has vowed to continue championing and supporting government in combating Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the country.

Madam Mutharika who is Ambassador for OXFAM’s ‘Ending of violence against women and girls’ (EVAWG) campaign says she is always concerned with various forms of violence and abuse targeted at women and girls.

She made the sentiments on Thursday at Kochilira Community Secondary School ground in Mchinji when she presided over the Launch of EVAWG campaign.

The First Lady called on women and girls who are victims of gender based violence (GBV) to report their cases to relevant authorities including community leaders and service providers for remedial action.

“As a woman, I am concerned when my fellow women are victimized and suffer in silence. Some even die at the hand of abusers. I encourage you to seek help and speak out before it’s too late. It is your right to do so. Government has laws to protect you and punish all perpetrators,” she said.

The First Lady encouraged girls to complete their education, saying cases of GBV could be reduced if girls are educated.

“Through Beautify Malawi (BEAM) Trust, we have completed constructing girl’s hostels at Sopa Community Secondary School in Mchinji and other districts to ensure that girls are protected and complete their educations without challenges,” she said.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Esmie Kainja said government and other partners such as OXFAM, Girls Empowerment Network (GENET) and Youth Net and Counseling (YONECO) have intensified awareness messages on violence against women and girls through the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence which start from November 26 to December 10, every year.

“When girls and women are abused and violated, development in the country is affected. I therefore commend organisations that are pioneering by-laws that protect women and spreading awareness messages aimed at protecting women and girls,” she said.

OXFAM Deputy Country Director, Lingalireni Mihowa said EVAWG campaign championed by the organization, which started in November 2017, is working with government in ending violence against women and girls.

“In the second year of the campaign, we call on organisations and development partners to channel more resources towards assisting service providers such as hospitals (One stop centre), police victim support units, courts and social welfare office. At OXFAM we will work with these institutions to fight gender based violence,” she said.

Mihowa commended the First Lady for her efforts in contributing towards ending violence against women and girls through her messages in the media and bill boards.

Before the official launch at Kochilira, the First Lady toured the Victim Support Unit at Kamwendo Police post to appreciate how the post deals with cases of abuse.

During the visit to the Police Post, Madam Mutharika pledged to donate food; a computer, to help in collecting information from the victims and beddings to assist victims who travel long distances to the Police Post.

National Victim Support Unit Coordinator in the Malawi Police Service, Patricia Njawili disclosed that Mchinji Police recorded 339 cases of GBV while Kamwendo Police post recorded 54 GBV cases from January to November, 2018.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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