Cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) are said to be declining in some parts of Karonga district in Malawi.
The decline has been registered mainly in Lupembe in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Kyungu where there are 20 community based organisations working with the Justice and Peace of the Karonga diocese of the Catholic Church.
Monitoring And Evaluation Officer at the Karonga diocese, Deodatus Muriya who is also assisting in the Primary Justice Project (PJP) disclosed that the decline in GBV in the district is due to the existing mutual relationship with the CBOs that help educate people in various communities on the dangers of the vice.
“Basing on the records we have from the district social welfare office, it shows that with this intervention, different forms of abuse done against each other in different places.
Be it in families or in work places have been tremendously reduced which is a clear indication that the CBOs are really helping us intensifying awareness campaign though I cannot immediately disclose the exact statistics on the degree of its decline,” explained Muriya.
In an earlier interview with Capital FM on the matter with the Karonga magistrates’ court, first grade magistrate Chakaka Nyirenda said the introduction of the Primary Justice project; the courts have been highly relieved of their tasks because all misdemeanor cases are heard at communal level by traditional courts such that the law courts are now concentrating much on felonies except when they fail to come up with a consensus.
Similarly, the Karonga District Social Welfare Officer, Atupele Mwalweni had warned against the act arguing that it derails socio-economic and human developments in the communities since in most cases women are denied opportunities to take part in decision-making processes.
Mwalweni said, “Any gender related violence is a serious offence which attracts a stiffer penalty based on the statute of the republic of Malawi where in some cases the offender may be asked to pay millions of kwacha or in default serve a minimum of five years jail term.”
In his remarks, Karonga District Commissioner, Richard Hara advised community members to consider taking their minor grievances to traditional courts to access quick primary justice rather than resorting to go to the magistrates’ courts in order to save their time for development works.
Being an overseer of the district, Hara concurred with Nyirenda that indeed workload has been reduced in conventional courts in the district because most of the minor cases are now heard at communal level.
However, one of the volunteers, Mercy Ndovie said they are trying their level best to combat the act by they are restricted by their local leaders who have negative attitude towards volunteers in various CBOs thereby disregarding the case record books for their reference when passing their verdicts.
Funded by the Department For International Development (DFID), Muriya added that the project is just a pilot phase which started on first December, 2017 is expected to complete in December 2018 with the aim of promoting peace and order in families and work places.