A group, calling itself Umunthu Pressure Group, has asked Malawi President Joyce Banda not to assent to the recently passed Gender Bill.
The group, in the petition to the President made available to Nation Online expresses concern over some sections in the Bill that do not reflect true interests, aspirations and understanding of Malawians.
The group said many Malawians were not educated and consulted to decide freely.
The group argues: “Malawians should be told the truth about good and bad effects of family planning methods, which have been embraced in the bill.
“The Bill also stipulates that when the doctor or the nurse refuses to comply or contravenes some sections of the reproductive health such as not willing to administer family planning methods to the client, because of some reasons such as his or her [doctor/nurse] belief, religion or thought, such a doctor will be punished by paying K1 million (about $2 500) or serve jail sentence of three to five years.”
The group said it believed that parents or guardians would not be interested to encourage their children to go to medical schools or even to work in Malawi under these punitive conditions.
The petition reads: “Your Excellency, the religious institutions in Malawi have clinics and hospitals across the country, it is obvious that they will not offer these modern family planning methods in their hospitals.”
The right to conscience of the doctors and nurses, argued the group, should be respected in the Gender Bill.”