Government has finally paid compensation to 18 women and girls who were allegedly raped by police officers around Mpingu and M'bwatalika in Lilongwe in 2018.
In February 2020, the Women Lawyers Association (WLA) commenced civil proceedings against the Malawi Police Service (MPS), the Clerk of Parliament, Ministry of Homeland Security and the Inspector General of Police in Judicial Review Cause No. 7 of 2020 on behalf of the victims.
According to a press release dated 19th July 2020 and signed by WLA President Immaculate Maluza, the civil matter was concluded successfully and the court ordered MPS to pay damages to the victims.
"On 9th March 2021, Assistant Registrar (Madalitso) Chimwaza sitting at Lilongwe High Court Registry issued a ruling on assessment of damages which determines the amount of compensation payable to each Applicant.
"Consequently, WLA would like to inform the public that the Government of Malawi has duly paid compensation to each of the 18 Applicants in JR Cause No. 7. The payment marks the conclusion of the civil aspect of the case," reads the press release made available to Nyssa Times, adding that WLA strongly believes that women and girls have the right to live free of violence, "however, statistics show that at least one in every three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or abused in her lifetime".
"Therefore, the ruling and the subsequent payment of compensation in JR Cause No. 7 solidifies that violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable and never tolerable," says the press release.
According to Maluza, women and girls in Malawi continue to face obstacles in accessing equal opportunity and representation in every sphere of life.
"We therefore implore the government to make available sufficient, effective and sustainable resources to reduce and eliminate gender based violence across Malawi," says.
According to the release, WLA is committed to ensuring that the progression of the criminal aspect of the case, which would result in the specific officers charged under the relevant criminal laws.
WLA also urges members of the community where the alleged acts of rape and sexual abuse took place against either harrassing or threatening the victims as such acts constitute crime under the law.
"WLA will therefore take immediate action against any perpetrator of violence against the victims of sexual and physical abuse," concludes the press release.
The 18 victims were awarded varying amounts of money as compensation ranging from K4 million to K10 million.