Break the silence
BREAK THE SILENCE
Although different forms of abuse and violence against women in the country have always been existent, there has been an upward surge notably from last year until now. One contributing factor to the increase in cases has been attributed to the covid-19 pandemic as observed by many experts, as a result of people spending a majority of their time indoors with their partners. Over the past few months, both organizations and individuals sparked controversial dialogues on these matters. Despite marches by different organizations in the country against rape and all kinds of abuse that the average Malawian girl and woman encounter, new cases are registered every day and the workplace in no different. In this era of social media, the nation was taken by surprise on the revelations that were made through Facebook by a former Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) employee: Miss Tadala Mussa. Prior to the release of the results from the Malawi Human Rights Commission’s (MHRC) inquiry on the basis of the allegations against the former Director General of MBC; which first surfaced on social media, a vast number of doubted the authenticity of the news. Fast forward to the time MHRC commissioners were reading what the special inquiry had found, although aware of this common practice by men in offices today, most people were shocked by how derogatory the comments made by men can be as well as the extents they reach to make women feel uncomfortable in the workplace.
Just a few weeks ago, Open society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and Young Feminists Network (YFN) engaged seasoned panelists on combating sexual harassment in the workplace. From the discussion, there is a plethora of men overstepping boundaries and taking advantage of women. If you are in Zomba, register to attend the forthcoming panel discussion on May 27 tackling
violence against young women and girls where Madam Mary Chilima is guest speaker. The most important thing to know for women who are in similar situations is that they can do something about it, especially if your organization has a women’s desk or department where one can report such abuse. Gather courage and support to go to the right authorities to report to. If you do not have a women’s desk, ensure that you follow your company’s official sexual harassment complaint procedures. As we wrap up this month, break the silence, stop rape, stop harassment.