© Copyright 2021 by Modester Phiri
the middle of the road, stranded, tired and alone without knowing
what to do or who to tell. Strapped of all the privileges knowingly
or unknowingly. Being left with two options, to live or to die, to be
a victim or to be guilty, to scream or to keep quiet, to tell
somebody or to live with it. Most gender-based violence victims are
left with two choices in their minds. Before they even attempt to
make a choice, they would like to know if gender-based violence
culprits really face justice. Based on the case studies below, with
hope they could have their answer.
Gender based violence is a term used to describe unlawful acts committed against someone based on their gender identity, gender expression and gender perception. The world has come to light to address that gender-based violence exist and the culprits behind these unlawful acts should be facing justice. Gender based violence could be in forms of; child marriages, female genital mutilations, honor killings, sex trafficking, intimate -partner abuse, physical punishments, rape, psychological violence and child abuse. The perpetrators of these acts are supposed to be apprehended and subjected to a court hearing so that they face justice. By statistics women and girls are the most vulnerable to experience gender-based violence in reference to most men.
This is why the number of organizations trying to help victims of gender-based violence mainly focus on women and girls. The fact is gender-based violence is still existing and right now the victims do not know which step to take next. This is the part where international, regional, national and community-based organizations comes in to assist these victims on what road to take after being violated. UN (United Nations) women is one of the organizations operating globally to ensure gender equality and eradicate gender-based violence against women and girls. UNHCR (united nations high commissioner for refugees) is another example of an organizations operating globally to address issues of gender injustices on refugee women and girls. IOVA (the International Organization for Victims Assistance) is among organizations taking a fight against gender-based violence against women. The truth is these organizations lay out foundation on how to tackle violence against women and girls.
The RAINN (The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network) is one of the organizations that is operating in the United states of America to advocate, protect and care for rape victims in America. Sonke Gender justice is an organization in South Africa that has an objective of promoting gender equality, curb domestic and sexual violence. This organization carry out several programs and campaigns on how to address violence against women and girls. These organizations are wide spread and are doing a great job in sensitizing the community about gender-based violence. Currently because of these kinds of organizations and activists, everyone is aware of what it means to be violated as a woman or girl a child.
However, some gender-based violence cases remain unreported and unspoken of. Imagine a little girl, so innocent and full of curiosity being raped by someone. It could be a brother or a cousin or neighbor or a stranger but this girl is young and does not know she has been violated until she grows older. A married woman who loves her husband and she will do everything she can to mask up her abusive husband. Another scenario could be where the culprit is threatening the victim to keep quite or the culprit has an absolute advantage over the victim. Sometimes the victim could be lost enough in pain and thoughts that she is willing to forget her abusive moments. Truly cases like these, points out that some gender-based violence culprits escape justice and they are living in our mist.
About 52% in approximation of gender-based violence cases have been reported. Victims guided by their guardians or communities report these cases to the police or other local organizations that assist in these cases. The government laws and regulations also play a part in ensuring that these cases are handled and dealt with accordingly. Some cases get justice while others are nulled down. Gender based violence Activist and organization are still fighting until date to ensure that fair and just trials are done regarding gender-based violence against women and girls. This means reporting gender-based violence is not enough to grant the victim justice. However, some culprits are apprehended by the law and they are facing maximum prison sentences depending on the court ruling.
Rape, one of the common gender-based violence act that has been advocated against a million times. Under aged girls are usually susceptible to rape. Globally, the world is battling a rape case every month. The question rape victims ask every day when they remanence their abusive incident is “do rape victims face justice?”. The answer to this question is what fascinates these victims to pursue justice or to remain quiet. The truth of the matter is rape or defilement does not fade even when justice is served. Post rape experience is what is stealing the productivity of rape victims. Rape victims need help in getting their abusers face justice and they need help to navigate post rape trauma. Rape victims need to be helped one way or another despite whether the rape was reported or not. The justice system of every country is the key to the doors of attaining justice in reference to rape cases.
Navigating case studies of how Malawi as country battles rape and gender-based violence cases could give a picture of how gender-based violence cases are handled globally. Around the month of May in the year 2021, the Malawian radio broadcasted a certain rape case. There was a legal immigrant from Asian origin doing business in Malawi and this immigrant was suspected of raping thirty-three Malawian girls. The case was brought to court but the court ruled this suspect innocent. The innocence was based on lack of evidence. The interesting part was that this case was brought to court in the year 2017 and it was tackled in the year 2021.The suspect has been out for bail for about three years. Among the thirty-three girls, only one had the courage to testify and fight for justice in the year 2021. The lack of evidence was based on that fact that the age on the case report was different from that on the national identification card.
This case was so interesting that up to date this suspect is free. The World is battling gender-based violence and one girl out of thirty-three chose to fight for justice. However, the Malawian court ruled her culprit innocent. Head of women activists, DR Jesse Kabwira looked into the matter and she is trying to appeal in high court. The 33 girls in total, if they were truly raped, how do they feel about their case. Everything comes back to the question, “do gender based violence culprits really face justice?”. Should little girls continue reporting rape cases actually when the court of law is going to look at the minor error in their age difference instead of looking at the fact that they were violated or not. When rape culprits are actually given bail for three years and the court takes three years to address the rape cases of 33 girls. Are gender-based violence culprits really facing justice out there?
They were other cases reported in the year 2020 about the Msundwe police officers in Mchinji district. The case was about police officers who assaulted and raped thirteen women, one girl and three under aged girls after a national protest in that area. The Malawi women lawyer’s association took an action against these police officers. At this point the police received the report but they took no action. The Malawi women lawyer’s association had to ask the court to declare that the police and the government failed to conduct proper investigation into the rape cases and that this was unreasonable and breached the constitutional rights of these women. Following this story outlines what happens when the law enforcers themselves commit an injustice. Luckily the court ruled in favor of these women. The court ruled that the police officers who raped and abused girls and women in the presence of their children should be apprehended. In this case the rape culprits faced justice at last.
However, when the world is busy tackling rape cases involving someone not related to the victim, the culprits who are related to the victims are ignored. Most rape cases in the courts are about step fathers, what about brothers and fathers? Since cases like this are not reported, it does mean that a blood related rape perpetrator does not exist. Maybe its high time the world starts to acknowledge that gender-based violence culprits could be anyone. What motivates rape victims to come forward is how society address this kind of issues. If society hasn’t done much in surfacing cases like these, rape victims will continue to mask their pain and live with it.
Of course, there was a case relating to a legitimate father who was apprehended for defiling his 3-year-old daughter while he was drunk and the ministry of gender intervened. This father was actually arrested. This proves that gender-based violence culprits could be anyone. Like how women activists thronged Lilongwe court on march 4th 2021 in a battle cry against a suspected step-father who raped his nine-year-old step daughter. This showed a united front of women in Malawi who would like to witness change in the rate of abuse across the country. The same way society advocates non-blood related rape cases, the same way blood related culprits should be dealt with.
Dealing with rape cases could be fragile but because rape is continuously happening despite the effort the world is putting in to eradicate this type of abuse. South Africa is registered as the top country in Africa infested with numerous rape cases. Do the message “do not rape really cross the minds of most people?”. In Mwaza district, the police had to re-arrest a 51-year-old man who was on court bail for allegedly defiling his twelve-year-old step daughter on the same charge. This case happened in Malawi and it sheds a light on how abusers are not listening to the empathy cry of rape victims. What should actually be done to spread the message do not rape is what rape victims are trying to convey every day.
In brief rape is not the only fight Malawi and the rest of the world is Fighting. Gender based violence is a violence directed against a person because of their gender according to the definition by UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). This means that violence occurs in regardless of age and ethnicity. This also means that women could come across gender-based violence in their work place or at a place they least suspect to meet gender-based violence. There was a case of a Malawian female police officer who lost her job in the year 2017 because her nude pictures were trending on online social media platforms.
Looking at her, she looks guilty but her story needs be heard first before she is judged. This woman was at a training camp preparing to be sworn as a police officer any day soon. Her supervisor threatened her that she needs to capture nude poses and sent them to him if she really wants graduate as a police officer. She chose to graduate, however the wife of the supervisor out of jealousy released the photos on social media, the day she saw them in her husband’s phone. Cases like this draw women closer to the verge of losing their identity. This woman sued the supervisor and she won the case in the year 2021. A compensation fee and she is to be reinstated as a police officer. How many women have been shamed publicly like in this scenario? Work based-gender violence and social media-based gender violence is at its peak and it needs to stopped.
Globally, an estimated population of 736 million women, almost one in a three have been subjected to intimate -partner violence, on sexual violence or both once in their life. The rates of depression, anxiety disorders, unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and HIV and AIDS infections are higher in women who have experienced gender-based violence. Violence against women is recognized as a major impairment to health and social development. Gender based violence has been an issue that the world has been addressing ever since. More and more funds are directed to victims of gender-based violence every day. It is a disaster that gender based violence curve never diminishes. Gender-based violence is natural disaster that can be stopped or terminated without living a cycle of victims.
Domestic violence is usually inflicted on women by their husbands. When it comes to confrontations, women are more violent than men. By statics more women are the ones that come across physical violence most of the times. A number of police reports are flooded with female victims who have been beaten up or murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. There is no good reason that can justify domestic violence or intimate partner violence. The main motive associated with this type of violence is the sense of ownership. Ownership is the act or right of possessing something or controlling a property. A property or something refers to a non-living thing.
When two people are intimately involved they claim each other and it is this reclamation that mandates most abusive partners. Is it really true that an intimate relationship is the same as ownership? People need to be aware of the difference between owning someone and being in a relationship with someone. Owning someone is known as slavery and it was abolished around the year 1865.An intimate relationship has to recognize both the weakness and the strength of the partner. A point of flaws is not reasonable to give room to domestic violence or intimate partner violence. When a relationship is not working, it should not be replaced with domestic violence. Ownership and a relationship should be differentiated over and over to remind gender-based violence culprits that they do not have an excuse to commit acts of violence against their intimate-partners.
According to one of the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) report, it suggests that gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of women. Women subjected to gender-based violence suffer psychological trauma that affect their day to day lives. Imagine a girl child that has come across sex trafficking or has undergone genital mutilation. This was done against the will of the victim and these kinds of violence’s have permanent impacts to the lives of the victims. The code of human rights exists for this purpose. Right to life and freedom of choice are the cornerstone of living lives. This defends those cultural, interpersonal, and abusive intrusions into someone’s life. When these rights are stolen, there is no consolation to that. The question whether gender-based violence culprits really face justice needs to addressed as now and then.
UNDP (United Nations Development Program) released a report that suggested that during the covid-19 pandemic, gender-based violence was also at its peak. Gender based violence increases when there is an emergency. It could be an economic crisis, a conflict and disease outbreaks. Many women were in lockdown with their abusers while being cut off from normal support services. Like mentioned above, there is no reason that can justify gender-based violence and every individual is entitled to their own lives. The world was battling covid-19 pandemic but gender-based violence culprits took this opportunity to be abusive and violent. Gender based violence culprits need to be reported and apprehended. This also constitutes what the European Institute for Gender equality (EIGE) did to improve the collection and harmonization of the data on violence against women.
To be abused or violated merely means to be strapped of all your privileges. Gender based violence victims are left with grim and critical choices to make. Amicably, organizations, agencies and human rights activist have fought the battle of letting the world know that gender based is real and it should be minimized. The only part left is whether the gender-based violence culprits really face justice. Addressing this question first will enable the world to adapt to the new laws that eradicates gender-based violence and empower women and girls. Definitely gender based violence culprits should be facing justice.
On the first case study that happened in Malawi about the case of thirty-three girls who were suspected to be raped. The way this case was handled, does it reflect that gender-based violence culprits really face justice? AS matter of fact this case dishonors the brevity and the courage of abused women that have to come open and share their violations. The court of law needs to revise on how it handles sexual abuse cases. This leads to the argument whether gender-based violence culprits should actually be given bail. This culprit was suspected of raping thirty -three girls, in other words future thirty -three mothers. There was another culprit among the case-studies that was on bail and continued to abuse his twelve-year-old step daughter. Does giving sexual abuse culprits bail supports or endorse gender-based violence? The justice system needs to address who is supposed to be given bail when it comes to sexual violence cases. The step daughter had to live in the same house again with her abuser, was giving this culprit bail essential?
Women themselves have united and they support each other to eradicate gender-based violence. Women that thronged to Lilongwe court in the battle cry against a suspected step father rapist showed the determination the world needs to eradicate gender-based violence. In this twentieth century, gender-based violence victims should be encouraged to come open with their violations and they should be supported through it all. This strong united front teaches gender-based culprits something. When one woman is abused, it is like fifty women have been abused. This was a strong message to gender based culprits that this generation of women is going to fight them to the end.
However, it was a sad scenario that a fellow woman was subjected to social media-based violence by another woman. Women should learn to protect each other’s rights at all circumstances. There was a better way this woman would have handled the nude pictures of her fellow woman. It is another case when the other gender subject the female gender to violence. This time it was about women trying to abuse each other. Anger management projects should be communicated worldwide and women need to exercise patience when dealing with their marital issues. If women are constantly abusing each other, who is going to fight for gender-based violence. Women needs to be role models themselves in the fight against gender-based violence involving women and girls.
Parents, guardians, neighbors, societies and communities have roles to play in eradicating gender-based violence. There was a case whereby the Malawi human rights commission agency wanted the parents of a certain defiled little to be penalized for negligence. The shameful act these parents did was to chase their six-year-old little girl out at night and this little girl ended up sleeping in the neighbor’s house who repeatedly defiled her. This brings a question to parents, do parents or guardians actually endorse child abuse and gender-based violence? When the society is giving room to abusers, the more the victims of sexual abuse and gender-based violence are going to surface. Good parental-hood is the bone of eradicating child abuse and some gender-based violence’s.
The remaining part is for the social justice system to do its intended duty. When the justice system is fair and just, victims are motivated to start again their lives positively. Moreover, this also sends a message of what will happen when someone commit acts of gender-based violence. The court of law has to update its approaches towards navigating gender-based violence cases. The biggest evidence of gender-based violence is post trauma and anxiety. Just because it is indefinite to measure traumatic experiences, it does not mean someone was not raped. The first thing the court of law needs to look at is, did the rape happen? or did the gender-based violence occur? Before scrutinizing through medical reports and citizen identification cards. Towards the inevitable future, some gender-based violence culprits have escaped justice because there was not enough proof relating to the circumstance.
The government is the core of the fight against gender-based violence. The government’s role is to support and endorse gender-based violence agencies, organizations and activists. The role of the government extends further to establishing the laws and order of a country. If the government weakens it its approach of addressing gender-based violence cases, the government will actually be endorsing these kinds of acts of abuse. Eradicating some cultural norms that leave traces of abuse starts with the government’s plans. Eradicating child sex-trafficking starts with the government imposing strict laws and maximizing bolder security routine checks. It is time for the world to unite and address gender-based violence as a crisis in our midst.
The question still stands, do gender-based violence against women and girls’ culprits really face justice? There are global reports of people actually being sentenced to prison for violating basic human rights of women and girls. Victims subjected to gender-based violence should actually have hope that gender-based violence culprits really face justice. The world has introduced new laws and strategies to combat gender-based violence against women and girls. Activist and organizations are not quitting either to provide solutions to gender-based violence victims.
The same question would definitely be answered differently to those that never reported gender-based violence cases or those that lost their battle in the court of law. women and girls that choose to remain silent makes their culprits escape justice themselves .Of course these women are not supposed to be judged .Some of these women could have been subjected to threats which is also another crime committed by the gender-based violence culprit .Some of these women could be afraid of the societies judgmental perception .Like how someone will feel obligated to report her blood brother for sexual assault .Some women will still want to protect their intimate partners from getting imprisoned despite their partners being abusive towards them.
The question is still there, when a woman or a girl child comes across gender-based violence, should she expect that the culprit will face justice? This question is for the social justice system to answer. What happens in reality is that the court of law focusses on available evidence. So, it is true when a victim of gender violence doe not have enough evidence, she is going to lose her case. This is how some gender-based violence culprits escape justice. The only fact is that for a gender-based culprit to face justice it depends with the evidence brought forward. If the evidence is tampered or lost, gender-based violence culprits do not face justice.
The battle of choice still exists in the mind’s women subjected to gender-based violence. Should victims report their abusers even when they don’t have evidence? The court of law seems to be falling most victims of gender-based violence’s who have inadequate or tampered evidences .This is the point where gender based violence activists or organizations should come in .Even when a gender based violence victim loses in court ,she needs to win in life by living a positive happy life .Gender based violence activists have a major role that just fighting for justice, their roles should extend further to post-court rulings .They need to make sure that the victims of gender-based violence are protected from post-abuse and they have started to adapt and to impact positively to their communities.
Justice delayed is justice is denied. If Gender-based violence cases are taking more than a year to be solved, it actually means that the victim has already been denied justice the moment they reported their case to the authorities. How many girls and women have been denied justice by the court of law because the court took long to address their case? Abused women need to be heard and their voice should be louder even in the court room. Maybe the magistrate courts should be wide-spread to minimize delaying justice to gender-based violence victims.
Deprivation of basic human rights is not the only post effect of gender-based violence. Victims are subjected to a lot of negative post effects of gender -based violence. Defilement cases that leads to sexually transmitted diseases and alteration of the woman reproductive system are the critical effects of gender-based violence. It begins with one slap on the cheek to actually Mulder an intimate partner. Domestic violence has left lots of scars than just bruises to the victims. Physical violence is a near death experience and could actually leave one with a disability. Social media-based violence leads to defamation and ruining of one’s reputation. Culprits behind these cases should actually be facing justice. When a gender-based violence case is mentioned, it means that there a lot of dimensions to be looked at than the individual human rights.
Gender-based violence victims would also like to know if the rights of every girl child and women will be protected everyday than just letting their culprit face justice. Everyone is responsible to ensure that gender-based violence is terminated. Lust should be controlled and men need to find ways of handling their sexual stamina other than raping little innocent girls. Men should also take part in supporting the fight against gender-based violence. It is not just about standing tall as a father when your daughter is raped, it is about protecting a thousand daughters from rape. When men and women unite towards this fight, the hope of eradicating gender -based violence is high and more developmental funds will be saved.
Victims of gender-based violence’s should also take the first step in sensitizing the community and advocating for change. Mothers would like to be sure that the world is safe again to raise a girl child. A girl child is not a prey or a target. She actually has dreams and hopes of accomplishing her life-time goals. It’s time to let little girls grow and have a good childhood experience. Sex is supposed to be a choice that adult woman should make and no any other girl should be imperiled to sex trafficking. A relationship is not a guarantee to subject an intimate partner to domestic violence. Instead of beating their spouses, husbands should actually be punching a bag of sand. Therapy and anger management resolutions should be promoted to minimize domestic gender-based violence’s. When gender-based violence victims come out, they actually ensure the future girl child that the world will be safe again once gender-based violence culprits are dealt with.
Gender-based violence culprits face justice when they are apprehended and when there is evidence supporting the claim. Gender-based violence culprits face justice when the victims report their abusive moments than choosing to hide them or to live with it. Gender-based violence culprits run free when the justice system approaches gender-based violence as a crime of passion. It is actually a bigger crime than that. Women and girls are robbed of their individual rights and subjected to psychological trauma for eternity. Gender based violence is a crime and the culprits behind gender-based violence need to face justice. Gender-based violence culprits should be treated like any other dangerous criminal and their sentences should be maximum to eradicate gender- based violence.
Inconclusion, gender-based violence culprits should be facing justice and the social justice system needs to ensure that justice is attainable all the time. Gender -based violence’s needs to be reported so that the individual rights of every citizen should be protected. The stories rape victims and gender-based violence victims tell are evident to the ongoing battle against gender-based violence. Abused women and girls are tired of telling their stories, they want to raise their flag higher and higher. Gender-based violence free world is possible; the world needs to embrace that instead of embracing gender-based violence as a challenge.