BALAKA (Malawi NewsNow ) —Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Mrs Patricia Kaliati, has urged Malawi women to remain vigilant and refuse any demands by officials for sex encounters in exchange of casual labour offered under government’s cash transfer initiative—Public Works Programme (PWP).
A Kalondolondo report has claimed that public officers in some district councils are demanding sex from women and thatt he entry point for the abuse, according to their findings, is during registration where foremen demand sexual favours from girls and women if they wanted to be registered for the piecework.
The government-funded PWP, financed by the Local Development Fund (LDF), is an income generating activity where rural citizens work and get paid K300 per day to enable them to buy farm inputs and other necessities.
Speaking when she visited beneficiaries at Mkweta and Changali clusters in Balaka and Mangochi respectively, Kaliati warned that government would sternly deal with any official caught either exploiting beneficiaries or abusing Social Cash Transfer resources.
She urged communities to report any misconduct by officials mandated to implement the programme at district level.
“No one should take advantage of the plight of you the poor to coax anyone, especially women and girls, into a sexual relationship,” Kaliati cautioned.
She disclosed that government will soon change the mode of disbursement for the cash transfers to electronic payment to reduce cases of abuse and also as one way of increasing access of commercial banking services to rural areas.
“We would like to switch on to e-payment in all the participating districts. What this will entail is that the bank involved in any particular district will also be required to provide soft loans to women beneficiaries as an economic empowerment arrangement,” Kaliati added.
Kalondolondo (community-based monitoring) Project programmes manager Mr Jephter Mwanza said aid other types of abuse on women included situations where foremen asked women to cook for them, carry firewood and till their personal gardens.