Stakeholders Push For Psychosocial Support For Defilement Victims
Some stakeholders in the promotion of children's rights have called for more financial investments in the provision of psychosocial support to defilement victims, as cases of sexual violence against minors remain high in the country.
In an interview yesterday, Women Rights Activist, Dr Jessie Kabwila, said most young girls especially those living in rural areas, lack such support, to return to normal life.
Dr Kabwila, noted that while the country’s courts are giving stiffer punishments to convicts in criminal matters, the young girls find it difficult to continue with education due to stigma and discrimination.
“These children come from different backgrounds, some are very economically challenged and cannot afford to get them for counselling or to change schools to reduce stigma,” said Dr Kabwila.
Commenting on this matter, Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati, said there are officers in institutions that include District Social Welfare offices, health facilities as well as police stations, providing psychosocial support to such victims.
She said there is a need to simply intensify awareness campaigns, to ensure all victims access the services.
“We have the police, we have hospital officers and counsellors within hospitals where the victims are counselled,’’ said Kaliati.
But in districts such as Nkhotakota, victims of the criminal act receive psychosocial support only once.
“We confirm the case, do case management and provide psychosocial support”, Nkhotakota District Hospital Spokesperson, Garry Chilinga, said in an interview.
He confirmed that the arrangement which is under the One Stop Centre, comprising other stakeholders who include the police, has a once-off psychosocial support component.
Gender activist, Emma Kaliya, said the Victim Support Unit of the Malawi Police Service, is one of the structures that lack financial support.
She said One Stop Centres were established to ensure such victims access the support but the arrangement has not been effective, as most of the sites are located in the country’s major cities only.
Kaliya, therefore, concurred with Dr Kabwila, that more interventions are needed to ensure this area is adequately funded.
But despite facing challenges of this nature in dealing with sexual violence, the country is making some achievements which include stiffer punishments to convicts, imposed by the courts, to deter the would-be offenders.