By Martin Chiwanda – Mana
Nsanje Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) has embarked on raising communityawareness in the area of Senior Chief Tengani where childsexual exploitation and violence are said to be on the increase.
Nsanje MRCS District Coordinator, PatriciaGadi, said in an interview on Monday theorganisation decided to raise awareness to thecommunity in an effort to fight against sexual gender-basedviolence which has been rampant recently in the area.
Gadi noted that children, especiallygirls, are going through a lot of challenges such asdefilement, which in the end would destroy their lives as wellas their future.
“Nsanje District Malawi Red Cross Society, with supportfrom UNICEF under Humanitarian Preparedness on Disaster andResponse, we are fighting sexual gender-based violence.
“Since most children are highly exploited, especiallygirls, they live in fear, silence and are risking theirlives,” said Gadi.
She expressed concern with sexual gender-basedviolence in the area of Senior Chief Tengani, sayingfemale children are disadvantaged as they are prone to sexual violencesuch as defilement.
“…Therefore, our organisation feels that it has a crucial role inthe fight against the malpractice through community awareness,” she said.
The Nsanje MRCS District Coordinator further saidthey would raise awareness and encourage an opendialogue to prevent abuse.
“We are enhancing our efforts to increase public awareness on therisks of child sexual exploitation and abuse targeting the communities atlarge.
“During the awareness, referral pathways are emphasized sothat people know where to report their complaints once they areexploited. We are very sure that raising awareness is essential forprotecting children from sexual exploitation and violence,” said Gadi.
Nsanje District Social Welfare Officer, ChikumbutsoSalifu, acknowledged that in Senior ChiefTengani’s area only, over 20 child sexual abuses have beenrecorded by his office this year alone.
“I can confirm that the area of Senior Chief Tengani has recordedover 20 child sexual exploitation this year. This is huge as our officerscannot concentrate on other equally important issues,” said Salifu.
He then applauded Nsanje Malawi Red Cross Society for itsefforts in trying to raise awareness in the area sothat child exploitation can be controlled.
“We have to appreciate what Malawi Red Cross Society has doneby conducting community awareness to fight child sexual exploitation.Let me ask other organisations to assist my office as the area needs a lotto be done,” said Salifu.
Senior Chief Tengani said he was equally concernedwith the rise of the said cases in his area.
He blamed the situation on lack of by-laws and lawenforcement, saying only a few culprits get punishedwhen they are involved in such practices.
“I am very concerned that such cases are on the rise in my area.Lack of by-laws is contributing to the rise. Law enforcement is alsonot adequate.
“However, there is need to engage an extra gear in theawareness so that people should be aware of the types of gender-based violenceand where they are supposed to report when abused. Organisations shouldspread across all the areas, not only along the M1 road.
“I am saying this because most organisations fail to reach outto rural areas due to what they call mobility challenges,” explainedSenior Chief Tengani.