CHRR, YAS Demand More Than Apology on Attack on Joyce Banda
The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and the Youth and Society (YAS) have called for President Peter Mutharika to lead efforts to stop violence against women on the campaign trail.
The two organisations say all political parties too have to put in place concrete measures to prevent violence against women noting that there is a rise in smear campaigns, including use of vulgar and demeaning language, name-calling and personal attacks on the campaign trail.
“In such situations, women always emerge as the biggest victims. (We) are particularly disturbed by derogatory sexual remarks made by the State President, Prof. Peter Mutharika on 1st June 2020 against Former State President of Malawi, Joyce Banda, during a whistle stop tour at Goliati and later at Bvumbwe in Thyolo,” reads a joint-statement issued by the two organisationa.
President Mutharika referred to Dr. Banda as Hule (prostitute) and Madeya (husks-sarcastically implying ‘not-the-type-of woman worth pursuing’) remarks which have invited a lot of public criticism of the president and his Democratic Progressive Party-DPP.
The remarks were made in apparent reaction to Dr. Joyce Banda’s earlier verbal attacks on Mutharika in which she claimed that the president was a binge alcohol drinker.
“We condemn the former president for the highly offensive remarks. At the same time, we at CHRR and YAS are hugely disappointed by Mutharika’s counterattack, which is not only disproportionate but also counterproductive, especially coming at a time when his own government and other key stakeholders are busy implementing various programmes aimed at promoting women participation in politics.
“Such remarks have the potential to roll back the small gains the country has made over the years in promoting women’s political participation. It is disappointing to note that despite huge investments made in initiatives such as the 50-50 campaign, rates of women’s participation in Malawi’s politics remains pathetically low,” the statement further reads.
CHRR and YAS have since called on political leaders to help safe guard admirable gains made so far in the area of women political empowerment which include increased election of women to parliament and local councils, the election of the first ever woman speaker of Parliament, first ever female mayor in Lilongwe and Malawi’s youngest female MP, Fynes Nwagonjwa.
“…these gains could be eroded if women continue to be abused on the campaign trail. We, therefore, urge all political parties to desist from perpetrating violence against women so as to encourage more women to join –and to stay in –politics,” reads the statement signed for by CHRR Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa and his YAS counterpart Charles Kajoloweka.
The two organisations argue that the demand for an apology from President Mutharika on the attacks on Dr. Joyce Banda is not enough as the president has a duty to eradicate violence against women during political campaigns and help create an environment where women can participate in politics without fear of harassment, ridicule or any other attacks.