Pretoria — Firstlady Madame Monica Chakwera has hailed Malawian professional women in diaspora for taking action to stand against rape and violence against women and girls which has become rampant in the country.
Madame Chakwera made the remarks in Friday in Pretoria, South Africa during a meeting organised by professional women living in South Africa. The meeting was on the side-lines of a two-day working visit to South Africa by President Chakwera.
She said it is disheartening to hear issues of rape each and every day portraying that women and girls as less valued.
"Every day we hear these disturbing reports of sexual violence against women, girls and little children," observed Chakwera.
The situation, according to Madame Chakwera, shows that there is need for every Malawian and non-governmental organisation to stand up and fight against sexual harassment.
"Malawi as a country needs help as it is today, lets break the silence of injustices against girls and women to curb the malpractices.
"Issues of girls are dear to me and when young girls are hurt and sexualised by adults, they may learn shame and be traumatised and can trust no one," bemoaned Madame Chakwera.
She added that women and girls are experiencing physical and mental health problems resulting from sexual assault that includes unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection such as HIV and AIDS hence it is important to find a way of stopping sexual abuse as it is putting lives of women and girls in danger.
She bemoaned the tendency of some guardians who shield the culprits behind the malpractice and has since requested government to deal with those involved.
She noted that although the non governmental organisations have helped in raising awareness on sexual violence, the issue remains a big problem due to cultural belief in our society.
She emphasized that there is need to empower women and girls in rural areas who are highly affected by environmental problems to be part of an active part of all development initiatives in the country.
She said rural women and girls are at high risk of being victimised since they do not have knowledge of what should be done should such issues arise hence the need for awareness and has called upon chiefs to take a leading role in abolishing some cultural beliefs that fuel sexual violence against women and girls.
She commended the spirit of professional women for supporting the initiative saying it will open a new chapter and achieve the intended purpose.
She, therefore, called for implementation of funding for the under privileged within the education system saying it can enable sustainability of the well-being of the young girls.
"Elimination of sexual violence is possible and I, therefore, urge women to stand up against all vices that subject them," she said.
Speaking earlier member of the professional women group, Cynthia Ngwalo Lungu, said the women are saddened with the issues of sexual violence happening in Malawi.
She urged the Firstlady through her foundation to appeal to authorities for stiffer punishment of the perpetrators.
In her remarks Coordinator of the Malawian Professional Women in South Africa, Priscilla Mwasinga, assured the first lady of their support to empower the girl child.
She revealed that the Association has established a scholarship fund to support Shaping the Future Foundation to put girls in school.
The group donated K500, 000 as a starter pack to the initiative. They have since appealed to other stakeholders to emulate the gesture.
Recently President Chakwera instituted a committee to investigate the issues of sexual assault amidst the increase reports on sexual abuse.