Refugees and asylum seekers residing at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa are ‘cooking up’ sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) cases against fellow refugees to claim insecurity in Malawi.
Police in Dowa have disclosed that the refugees and asylum seekers use police reports arising from false SGBV claims to justify their application for resettlement in Canada and other Western countries.
Dowa Police Station Criminal Investigations Officer, Assistant Superintendent Chance Sibale, made the revelation during a daylong engagement for magistrates and the police from Dowa and Ntchisi districts.
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) organized the workshop with funding from UN Women through Spotlight Initiative Project to provide stakeholders a platform to brainstorm on the best practices for combating violence in Dowa and Ntchisi districts.
Sibale stressed that some of the refugees at Dzaleka are in Malawi to secure resettlement in Europe.
“So, basically, what they do is to fake up an incident of defilement, claiming that their children have been defiled by their neighbours (who are also refugees). But when we take alleged defiled child to the hospital for medical examination, we find that they were not defiled,” he said.
“Even when you critically interrogate the child, you find that the child denies being defiled yet the neighbor has already spent days in police cells. So, in such cases, what we do is to file the docket and forward it to the court for disposal,” he added.
CCJP Lilongwe Archdiocesan Coordinator Enock Kamundi Phiri described the development as unfortunate and suffocating to the government and its development partners who are working hard to tackle the vice.
Phiri said such behavior has a potential to discredit even genuine cases thereby derailing national efforts to end violence against women and girls.
CCJP Lilongwe is implementing a project designed to empower women and girls so that they can challenge drivers of violence against women and girls both in private and public spheres.
The ultimate goal of their intervention is to contribute towards significant empowerment of women and girls and creation of a violence-free environment.
In addition to enabling a holistic approach to end violence against women and girls, the initiative promotes Agenda 2030’s guiding principle of “leaving no one behind” and build on the momentum of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) efforts especially Goal 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Critically, the initiative includes a comprehensive prevention strategy that addresses structural issues and linkages to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and HIV and AIDS.
Recognizing the scale of the challenge, CCJP is implementing the intervention in partnership with Child Rights Advocacy and Paralegal Aid Centre (CRAPAC) and traditional leaders through a project titled ‘Raising the Voice of Women in the Fight against VAWG’.
For the past one month, CCJP and CRAPAC have been training and tasking leaders of local structures such as community-based educators (CBEs), health workers and women groups to spearhead a structural intervention that aims to reduce the acceptance and prevent the incidence of violence.