Long Distances to Police Derail Responses to GBV Survivors

Chiphathi - our nearest police station is at a distance of 66 kilometres Chiphathi - our nearest police station is at a distance of 66 kilometres - pic by Hastings Jimani

Long distances to police structures and inadequate police officers in rural areas continue to stifle efforts to effectively respond to survivors of gender-based violence.

This has been established in Balaka and Nsanje districts following media visits organized by Women’s Legal Resource Centre (WORLEC) and Oxfam under the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls project.

In Balaka, a community activist in Sub-T/A Phimbi, Alex Chiphathi told us Balaka police station is their nearest police station at 66 kilometers.

“To get timely assistance from police on any GBV that requires police attention it’s not easy since we have no police unit in this area and Phalula police unit is very far as well,” said Chiphathi.

Group Village Headman Phimbi said they have enough bricks to construct a police unit in the area and they are just waiting for financial support from the district council to construct a police facility.

“At least our Community Action Group (CAG) is trying its best to resolve GBV cases especially those that do not require police attention but seriously we need a police unit here,” said GVH Phimbi.

At Tengani Police Unit in Nsanje, a child protection officer, Sergeant Wyson Chawawa said the unit has only three officers serving 36 group village heads.

“Our unit also does not have a VSU apartment, as such we refer all GBV survivors who need shelter to Nsanje police station and if that is not enough, our mode of mobility is a mere bicycle. We really are incapacitated in many areas,” said Sergeant Chawawa.  

National Police Spokesperson James Kadadzera said police is seriously considering beefing up officers in all understaffed police units.

“On long distances to police structures, it is the duty of elected leaders like members of parliament and councilors to lobby for construction of police units in their areas and our duty will be provision of standard for police structures,” said Kadadzera.

Oxfam Gender Programs Officer Sarah Kambilinya said the two organizations are working collaboratively with local structures to identify and tame any gender related violence in their communities.

“There is rapid transformation in the four T/As we are working in Nsanje and Balaka as people led by their chiefs, CAGs and star circles are able to identify and denounce archaic harmful traditions,” said Kambilinya.  

Oxfam and WORLEC are implementing EVAWG project with funding from United Nations Trust Fund (UNTF) through UN Women.

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