Thursday, December 22, 2011

ADRA Malawi intensifies campaign against GBV

Certificate presentation at the function
Over one thousand people gathered at Chisitu School Ground in Mulanje on Friday December 16, to participate in activities marking the end of 16 days of gender activism for 2011. The event was spiced by dances, drama, testimonies and speeches, all depicting gender based violence.
Under the theme ‘From peace in the home, to peace in the world’ men and women sung songs against acts of violence that have destabilized peace in the homes, leading  increased divorce cases and poverty.
Speaking at the function organized by ADRA Malawi through the Enhanced Livelihood through Gender Empowerment Project (ELIGE), Traditional Authority Chikumbu who was Guest of Honor bemoaned the rising gender related violence cases in her area and called on men and women to take full responsibility to end violence. She said women and children become victims of gender based violence.

Simbota captured during the function

During the function, a drama show depicted how violence occur in the homes and the misery it brings. The drama also revealed a strong connection between gender related violence and HIV/AIDS, that divorced wives become desperate for husbands and the need for voluntary counseling and testing are often ignored.
During testimonies, sexual cleansing was mentioned as one of the outstanding forms of violence against women still existing,  despite calls to abolish some cultural harmful practices. The cleansing is done in secret especially when the husband has died and a man is hired to have sex with the bereaved wife as a means of chasing bad spirits in the wake of the husband’s death. If the bereaved wife refuses to do the ritual, the belief suggests that she would be victimized by evil spirits  that would bring calamities in the home.
Speaking to the gathering at the function Makweche Simbota 36,   who had been hired to do the ritual revealed that he had sexually cleansed 22 women in her village and was paid 1500 Malawi Kwacha ( about $9) for each activity. He said there were a few women he did not charge any money because he naturally loved them. However, he said that some of the women he cleansed died. Simbota expressed remorse and regret in his speech that he was involved in such activities.

Reacting to the testimony Traditional Authority Chikumbu thanked Simbota for being brave and open and appealed to all men and women involved in such practices to stop or face consequences if discovered. She however advised Simbota to go for HIV test.

A training session in progress for couples and chiefs
Another testimony came from Estere Baloni who told the gathering that she was married for 13 years and has 5 children. She was sexually abused by her husband for several years and later he divorced her.  She said she was struggling to feed and send the children to school. A few months after divorce, one of her daughters, Mary,   left her for unknown destination. The message was sent to her husband to help find her where about but he did not pay attention. Mary was found three years later working in a bar at Lunchenza and she doubled as a prostitute and was found pregnant at the same time. She was later taken back to her mother.
Speaking earlier, Andiyesa Mhango,  ADRA Enhanced Livelihood through Gender Empowerment Project Manager   said her project has intensified the campaign against gender based violence by engaging couples in health and family matters to reduce violence. During the function, 21 participants received certificates after undergoing a two –week long workshop as peer trainers. Participants included couples and chiefs. The trained couples are expected to train other couples and build their capacity to promote and uphold family values.
Andiyesa  said that her project is targeting girls and young women to support them with primary and secondary education opportunities.       
ADRA is also empowering women with economic activities through Village Savings and Loan so that they can be self reliant other than depending on marriage as a means of survival.

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