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Women protest against Malawi rape impunity

Hundreds of women marched against rape in Malawi's three main cities on Tuesday, demanding harsher penalties to eradicate an entrenched culture of sexual violence.

Activists, politicians and journalists gathered to voice outrage at the violence, which has mainly targeted minors.

Waving placards that said "Hang the rapists" and "They are girls, not your toys", they chanted songs denouncing rape impunity.

"In some cases perpetrators have been prosecuted but obviously the punishments have not been a deterrent to other offenders," Edyth Kambalame, of the Association of Women in Media, told AFP in the second city of Blantyre.

Other demonstrations were held in the capital of Lilongwe and Mzuzu.

Lawyer Mandalo Banda accused the government of underplaying the severity of sex offences.

"I think perpetrators... lack humanity and knowledge of the fact that it is a crime," Banda explained.

Malawi police recorded 1,501 cases of sexual violence between January and September this year compared to 1,766 in 2019. Just over 1,500 cases were recorded in 2018.

Police spokesman Peter Kalaya vowed to do more to "eliminate these evils".

"We have arrested a lot of people, most of whom are serving sentences," he assured.

Women-led activism is drawing attention to widespread rape in Malawi, where sexual abuse is often culturally normalised and rarely reported.

Dozens of women staged a protest against sexual violence this year after police allegedly assaulted female citizens during post-election violence in 2019.

Topics: Malawi , Peter Kalaya , Mandalo Banda , Edyth Kambalame , sexual violence
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