Panos Southern Africa executive director Lilian Kiefer has said issues of gender-based violence (GBV) could be reduced if women have increased access to justice in the country.
Speaking in an interview on Tuesday in Blantyre, Keifer said access to justice has proven to be both a preventive and mitigating strategy in addressing GBV, adding the justice system should play a critical role in breaking down access barriers for women.
Said Keifer: “GBV puts women’s health at risk, undermines their dignity and limits their participation in society. It also undermines women’s ability to contribute to development.”
Keifer, who described GBV as a serious developmental challenge that must be addressed comprehensively, said traditional values also limit women’s access to justice, as those who brave it suffer stigma for going against the norm.
Keifer’s position is in line with findings of a special report by the Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, which notes that society contributes to the vulnerability of women to GBV.
Reads the report in part: “Women’s particular individual situation, coupled with pervasive societal gender-based discrimination, facilitates their being threatened and targeted by violence.”
Malawi continues to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence with a number of activities lined up throughout the country to raise awareness on the dangers of the vice. The days are commemorated from November 25 to December 10 every year. n