By Monica Tambala and Roselyn Phiri MANA
Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has expressed dissatisfaction with the increased torture and trauma that elderly persons continue to face in the country which is, in some cases, fueled by cultural and traditional beliefs.
In his remarks at the high-level stakeholder meeting on the rights of the elderly at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe on Wednesday, MHRC Chairperson, Commissioner Viwemi Chavula bemoaned the continued violence against the elderly which he said has now become a crisis.
“As the population continues to age rapidly, many older persons are still being denied their human rights facing discrimination, violence and even killings. It is disheartening to learn that these attacks are perpetuated the victims’ close relatives, exposing them to traumatic experience.
“Furthermore, the association of ageing with witchcraft fueled by cultural and traditional beliefs, has led to a rise in mob justice which is not only a violation of their human rights but also a threat to the human dignity, safety and well-being of the elderly,” he said.
The Commissioner called for collective efforts in creating a more inclusive and compassionate society for all senior citizens of the country as per the 2030 agenda which emphasises the importance of leaving no one behind.
Speaking on behalf of Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Jean Sendeza, Principal Secretary for Finance and Administration in the ministry, Nwazi Mnthambala, condemned the acts of violence against all elderly persons and called for urgency and collaboration in promoting the spirit of ‘Umunthu’ to make Malawi a safe place for all.
“The wave of violence against the elderly in the country has reached alarming levels. It is an undeniable fact that the majority of the elderly in this country are experiencing untold acts of torture and violence.
“While over 20 elderly persons were killed last year, six have been brutally killed in January alone. The killings not only show us the gravity of the atrocities but also how dangerous our communities have become for the elderly to live in,” said Mnthambala.
She appealed to development partners and local NGO’s, that are receiving support in the name of promoting and protecting the rights of the minority or vulnerable groups, to incorporate support towards elderly projects in the ministry.
United Nations (UN) Representative, Letty Chiwara, called for the passing of the Elderly Person’s Protection Bill.
She committed UN’s continued support in the fight against violence and the violation of elder person’s rights.