Community-based human rights defenders say some traditional leaders in the country perpetrate worst forms of violence against women and girls besides trampling on the people’s basic freedoms and rights.
The human rights defenders said this in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mkanda in Mulanje where Creative Centre for Community Mobilisation (Creccom) is enhancing ‘Women’s and Girls’ Voices in Essential Services’ with funding from Oxfam.
One of the human rights defenders, Vides Kaisala told Oxfam and Creccom at Kukada Village, after touring some projects last week, that while men are beginning to appreciate the need for the integration of women in various circles, chiefs are proving to be the ‘greatest impediments’ of the development.
Kaisala said instead of protecting the freedoms and rights of their subjects, chiefs are in the forefront violating them by grabbing land and frustrating the processes of primary justice by demanding unreasonable tribunal fee (chabwalo) from complainants.
“And chiefs take advantage of this culture to behave as if they are above the law. They violate their subjects’ rights at will knowing fully that no one can question their actions. I, therefore, would like to ask for your guidance: How should we handle such chiefs?” she asked?
Creccom senior programmes officer Geoffrey Kamanga said Malawi is a signatory to a number of national and international human rights-related instruments which citizens can use to demand their rights.
“The culture of silence is gone. You need to rise up and demand your rights now even from your traditional leaders,” he said.