LILONGWE (Muchanakhwaye Khwepeya, Malawi NewsNow ) –Malawi Police have issued an arrest warrant for a budding local hip-hop artist Mwiza Chavula behind a new song “Zizakupanga Rape” which rights activists say promotes violence against women and the government censorship board is also reviewing it amid calls that it be banned.
Chavula raps in the Chichewa language, which is widely spoken in Malawi.
In his latest song, a man is telling a woman long refusing his sexual advances that he will one day get her drunk, seal her mouth with a tape or socks, and rape her. The song ends with the sound of a woman crying.
Malawi Police spokesperson James Kadadzera, said the law enforcers are interested to question Chavula over the controversial song.
“We are looking for the artist for questioning,” Kadadzera said. “Wherever we may find him, we will definitely pick him.”
Police spokesman refused divulge more information but said he will inform the nation “once he has been interviewed”.
Chavula released the song in December, it gained momentum on social media in early January. The public backlash was swift. Women’s groups took to social media under the hashtag #arrestchavula.
Several popular online music distributors, like MalawiMusic.com, pulled the song and apologized.
Family Rights Elderly and Child Protection Trust (FRECHIP) is one of the bodies that has spoken strongly against the song stating that the song is a form of sexual violence against women and girls in Malawi which comes in form of harassment through rude jokes and suggestive remarks.
In statement signed by FRECHIP Executive Director, retired Child Justice Magistrate, Esmie Tembenu lamented that while it detested the contents of the song,
“As FRECHIP we are even shocked that some quarters are celebrating and defending such a song in the name of freedom of expression. Malawi’s Constitution recognizes freedom of expression but it is also expected that citizens will exercise that freedom with responsibility,” the statement reads.
U.N. Women gender activist Habiba Osman, who works in the capital, Lilongwe said :“It is a bad song, that, you know, even as a parent you would not want your child to listen or to get hold of that content or to be given air time in a normal society where human rights are entrenched in our constitution.”
Chavula, has apologized on his Facebook page and also attracted backlash for his tone.
“Malawians you are stupid, you are claiming my song Ndizakupanga rape is encouraging rape. I have one question, who has been raped? Who? What evidence is there to suggest that rape cases have increased after the release of the song? What evidence is there to support that claim,” he wrote on his Facebook
Organizations, including the Women Legal Resource Center, are backing the arrest of the aritsi.
“What Chavura has done, to say the least, is to insult the modesty of a woman in abstract. Section 137 (3) of the Penal Code stipulates that: Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture or exhibits any object intending that such word or sound shall be heard or that such gesture or objects shall be seen, by such women or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be guilty of misdemeanor and shall be liable to imprisonment of one year,” the statement signed by WOLREC’s Communication, Monitoring and Evaluation and Research Manager, Dumase Mapemba pointed out.
WOLREC are ALSO calling on the Malawi Censorship Board to ban Chavula’s song from radio and TV on moral grounds.
Chief censorship officer Humphreys Mpondaminga said the board is reviewing the case.
The artist told the local radio station that in part two, which is yet to be released, the man in the story gets arrested.“Maybe people should hear part two if they are willing to, but if they do not want to hear part two, fine, but for me, as a musician, I was not trying to offend anybody with the song,” he said.
A ban would prohibit public performance of the song including broadcast on local radio and TV stations.
But even though popular local sites have deleted the song, it can still found circulating in online chat groups.