The unfortunate reality of sexual violence against children in Malawi is deeply saddening and is definitely a matter that deserves added attention and action. Adolescents are at high risk for gender-based violence (GBV). Violence amongst young women can set them on a trajectory for continued violence in the future and sexual risk behaviour. Research has found that 1 in 5 (21.8%) young adult women has experienced sexual abuse before the age of 18 and have been violated by either boyfriends, classmates, acquaintances and family members. According to UNICEF, 77% of all sexual abuse cases in in the second quarter of 2020 involved child victims. 801 cases were reported in Blantyre, followed by 565 in Lilongwe and 511 in Mangochi.
There is a myth that circulates around Sub-Saharan African countries that has given rise to the reported cases of child sexual abuse. The myth in question is the ‘HIV cleansing myth” and this is the belief that an HIV infected individual can be cured by having sex with a child virgin. A study was conducted in Malawi where sex offenders were presented with the question of whether they believed that having sex with their victims would cure or cleanse them and of the 58 participators, none of the participants said that a desire to cure HIV motivated the abuse. However 27 admitted that a desire to satisfy their sexual needs led them to the abuse and a further 6 admitted that drug and alcohol used motivated them. It is clear as day that there is no excuse for the actions of these individuals and they simply desire to satisfy themselves and take it upon themselves to take the innocence of these young children away for a temporary moment of satisfaction.
There was a post directed towards ending child rape in Malawi posted by Tuno Chloe Smyton and she expressed that enough is enough and said “We are tired of rape cases every day. Our children are being raped and killed every day. We need justice. We need a change. We need a harsher punishment for the rapist. There is no excuse. What about a 2 year old is attractive?”
The artist released a video, sponsored by Voice Of The Child Malawi (VOTCM) on Youtube that brought light to this matter and can be viewed through the following link:
There have been several cases of child sexual abuse that have been reported in Malawi, a few examples such as the man who raped an 11-year-old child in Chikwawa or the man in Mangochi that was jailed for raping a one year old child. The tag ending child rape in Malawi has become a popular topic on social media platforms as it looks to take a stand for the girl child and the fight to be the voice for the voiceless.
Policies and intensified judgments need to be passed in order to deter possible offenders in the country. Awareness also needs to be raised on this issue and cultural practices that allow this behaviour to continue need to be put to an end.