By Chalo Mvula
As the world commemorated the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict that falls on June 19th, President Chakwera has called for more co-ordinated efforts by all world leaders in order to end sexual Violence in conflict zones, once and for all. He was speaking when he addressed a panel discussion webinar on Friday afternoon.
The webinar, which was organised by the UK Conservatives party was moderated by former UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s head of broadcasting, Caroline Preston and included panelists such as Malawi’s Minister of Health Hon Khumbize Chiponda. On 19 June 2015, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 19 June of each year the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, in order to raise awareness of the need to put an end to conflict-related sexual violence, to honour the victims and survivors of sexual violence around the world and to pay tribute to all those who have courageously devoted their lives to and lost their lives in standing up for the eradication of these crimes.
Opening the panel discussion with his address, President Chakwera thanked the organisers for Inviting him to speak and appreciating the role Malawi can play in the fight against sexual Violence. The President said , while Malawi might not be classified as a conflict zone, he feels each country has a moral obligation against Sexual Violence and that Conflicts zone like Democratic Republic of Congo, Northern Eastern Nigerian, Ethiopia and Mozambique are not far from Malawi. The president said the fact that Malawi hosts over 50 thousand refugees is a perfect reminder that countries need work together and be each brothers keeper.He called for the need to address humanity issues multilaterally, systematically and holistically with great lessons learnt from the Covid pandemic.
President Chakwera said he wants to see an end to sexual violence and promised to stand tirelessly with those that are working to bring to an end such despicable behaviour “ I stand with you all in condemning and calling for an end to all forms of sexual violence in conflict Zones, including forced pregnancies, forced prostitution, forced sexual slavery and rape
In her remarks, Minister of Health Hon Kumbize Kandodo Chiponda said the issue of sexual violence is a problem, not only for the conflict zones but the same challenges are also experienced everywhere. She said Malawi, just like other African Countries faces the challenge of ‘Culture of silence’ that sees victims failing to speak out just because the perpetrators is an Uncle, stepfather or a person of good standing in society.
According to United Nations, Rape and other forms of sexual violence continue to be used as weapons of war in conflicts the world over. The scale of sexual violence against civilians in situations of conflict and repression is truly appalling. Survivors of conflict-related sexual violence are often ostracised by their communities, shunned by their families, denied just justice and cut off from critical support networks.
The UK government has led global action to tackle conflict-related sexual violence since the launch of the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI) in 2012 by the former Foreign Secretary, Lord Hague, and UNHCR Special Envoy, Angelina Jolie. Since then, the UK has committed over £46 million, supporting over 85 PSVI projects across 29 countries