The Parent and Child Health Initiative [PACHI] has taken a new approach of reaching out to all school–going learners with messages of Gender Based Violence [GBV] through clubs comprising of girls and boys in Dowa district.
Ifenso Tingathe club is a Spotlight Initiative Program where adolescents meet to share their experiences on their problems happening in their respective communities in everyday life situation.
In Dowa, Ifenso Tingathe clubs are being implemented in all Spotlight Initiatives areas of Traditional Authorities Mponela, Msakambewa, Mkukula, Dzoole and Chiwere with a possibility of scaling up to the other remaining areas of Traditional Authorities Chakhaza and Kayembe in the district.
On 10 December, marking the end of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence which started on 25t
November 2020, Ifenso Tingathe clubs, from schools surrounding Dowa boma, with support from PACHI organized a meeting with all relevant school stakeholders which included chiefs and the police on issues of increasing defilement and rape cases in the district.
Speaking during the meeting held at the Boma Teacher Development Centre [TDC], Dowa Police Station Victim Support Unit [VSU] coordinator, Sub. Inspector Amnesty Banda, appealed to all school–going girls to say NO to forced sex and marriage for them to be in school and be responsible citizens in their respective communities.
Banda asked girls to dress in a manner that would not attract men to rape them, observing that many girls have ended up been raped one of the contributing factor, is the way they dress themselves, hence to dress in a respectable manner.
She dismissed claims as alleged by the communities that some rape and defilement suspects are released two to three days after being arrested by police saying this is not true, police do not give bail to such suspects only the courts.
…”All suspects of rape and defilement no bail by police only the courts, some are granted bail for lack of evidence,’’…..said Banda.
She appealed to those who report to police defilement and rape cases to always make follow ups with the police and the courts to find out the progress of the reported cases saying this is the only way communities can build trust that rape and defilement suspects are not given police bail.
Speaking earlier, Group Village Headman Chileka faulted Life Skills subject being taught in schools as fuelling Gender Based Violence saying whatever learners learnt they need to practice, thereby increasing Gender Based Violence [GBV] among school–going children, advising girls to report defilement and rape cases for such suspects to be arrested in the district.
Moderator for the meeting, a standard 8 learner at Dowa 2 primary school, Obvious Nkhoma, said the meeting has given them hope that if school structures, chiefs and police work hand in hand, Gender Based Violence can be a thing of yesterday in the district, asking PACHI to continue supporting similar interventions in the future.
Standard 8 learner at Dowa 2 primary school, Obvious Nkhoma: Let us have these meetings time and again to end GBV in the district
Ifenso Tingathe is a 5 year project being implemented since 2019 as a Spotlight Initiative of school clubs formed after realizing that the voices of the adolescents were not taken seriously in society for the clubs to be used as platforms to amplify change in Dowa district.
By Vincent Gunde