Malawi: Report Reveals Sex Exploitation Still Rampant At Workplaces in Malawi

10 December 2019

Sexual exploitation at workplace remains a prevalent problem in Malawi although government and its development partners have made huge financial and human resource investment in a campaign to end the vice.

Malera addressing participants . -Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times Panellists outlining issues in the GBV sector. -Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

This was revealed during a panel discussion, which was one of the activities at the launch of the National Community of Practice on Violence against Women and Girls.

The Malawi Violence Against Women and Girls- Prevention and Response Programme "Tithetse Nkhanza", a donor gender and human rights group that receives funding from the United Kingdom (UK)'s Department for International Development (DFID), launched the community of practice in a drive to end gender-based violence (GBV) and advance the rights girls and women in the country.

The launch was held under the theme: Building the bridge between research and practice: National Community of Practice on Violence against Women and Girls and it drew participants from a number of local and international NGOs that work in the areas of gender and women empowerment.

And speaking during a panel discussion that focused on the progress Malawi is making towards eradicating GBV, the Action Aid Malawi Women's Rights Thematic Manager, Chikumbutso Ndaferankhande, disclosed that sexual exploitation remains rampant in the country, particularly in the world of work.

Ndaferankhande said findings from the Ndiulula Campaign survey indicate that the vice is in fact getting worse in some instances.

Ndiulula Campaign is a joint national advocacy campaign premised on the increasing levels of violence and harassment in various workplaces - seeks to break the silence on violence against women and girls in the world of work.

"In all this, we have noted that power imbalance between men and women is one of the major contributing factors to the perpetuation of violence and harassment targeting women. And because they [women] are disempowered, they feel restrained not to talk about violence. So, this is the campaign that would like to give power to people who feel disempowered to come out and report issues of violence, especially sexual violence in the workplace," she explained.

Tithetse Nkhanza team leader, Grace Malera, said the goal of the programme is to reduce the prevalence of violence against women and girls and reduce and improve the justice system for women and girls living with violence in Malawi.

"This is an ambitious programme that wants to capitalise on a groundswell of activity and support the efforts to reduce the prevalence of VAWG in Malawi. There is proven attitude and behavioural change interventions that will shift harmful social norms; build on previous local and international activity in the formal and informal justice sectors; and work collaboratively and innovatively to learn what works best to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls in different geographical and cultural contexts in Malawi," Malera said.

The Malawi Demographic and Health Survey 2015/16, one third of women have ever experienced physical violence since the age of 15, one in five women have ever experienced sexual violence and more than four in 10 married women have experienced spousal violence, whether physical or sexual or emotional.

In 2017, the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare reported that in addition to having experienced violence, 49 percent of women have not accessed gender based violence support resources nor have they confided in family or friends regarding their experiences.

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