National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust says trying defilement cases in communities can help raise awareness on gender-based violence (GBV).
Speaking on Wednesday after a circuit court session at group village head (GVH) Liwonde in Balaka District, Nice Balaka district education officer Henry Zekaria said most community members do not follow court proceedings due to long distances from their villages.
He said Balaka Magistrate’s Court heard two defilement cases committed in the area.
Said Zekaria: “Nice facilitated a mobile court in the village to hear the cases, but also to raise awareness about the judicial system and the gravity of GBV.
“Primarily, we wanted the people to hear the sentences handed over to defilers, but the magistrate adjourned the cases to 10 October for sentencing.”
He said together with other partners such as Women’s Legal Resource Centre and YouthNet and Counselling Organisation, they have been raising awareness about GBV.
Other sessions of these trials were previously held in camera to protect the victims.
Balaka second grade magistrate Phillip Chibwana bemoaned rampant cases of defilement, saying if the trend continues, more boys will be jailed while more girls will drop out of school due to pregnancies.
He said: “It is everyone’s responsibility to inform the people that the law on defilement is strict because it wants to protect the girl child.
“So, advise your children to refrain from sex before marriage because prison can transform them into hardened criminals.”
Chibwana appealed to civil society organisations such as Nice to intensify awareness campaigns on defilement in the district.
GVH Liwonde asked parents to inculcate good manners in their children to avoid committing crimes.
With funding from the European Union, Nice Trust is implementing Chilungamo Programme to enhance access to justice for vulnerable communities in the country.