By Elizabeth Ndhlovu-Dumbreni

 

Honourable Susan Matsunga (standing) shares her views at meeting

 

Member of Parliament for Harare Metropolitan, Honourable Susan Matsunga, highlighted at the KP dialogue with parliamentarians, the importance of working with key populations on the ground and involving them in all planned activities.

By Elizabeth Ndhlovu-Dumbreni

Key populations (KP) in Malawi are a group facing significant stigma and discrimination both in society at large and at health facilities, because some of their behaviours are stigmatised and even criminalised. As a result, they also have less access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment services.

It is against this backdrop that Malawian MP for Mchinji West; Honourable Deus Gumba (pictured above), has made strides in giving a voice to members of key populations in his constituency and beyond.

Buumba continues to defy all odds not only in Zambia, but regionally and internationally. In the last quarter alone she has received five local and international awards namely: The Zambian Woman of the Year: Cry of An Orphan Award; Outstanding African Motivational Award; African Image Maker Award; and the 100 Iconic Women World Award (alongside world leaders like German President Angela Merkel, Hilary Clinton, Melinda Gates, Indira Ghandi, Christine Lagarde and Wangai Matari!)

Sex workers in Mashava have faced stigma and discrimination as their work is considered unacceptable by the community; many religious groups believe sex work is a sin and against the law of God. As a result, sex workers are viewed as a disgrace to society and these attitudes are shared by service providers. Consequently, sex workers face challenges in accessing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and rights. When they do gather the courage to access SRH services for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), they are asked to bring their partners. This acts as a barrier to their accessing treatment as – since they have multiple sex partners – tracing their STI contact is difficult.

I am a 2017 SAfAIDS Young People’s Leadership Academy (YPLA) mentee, currently working as a Project Officer with Girls Empowerment Network (GENET) in Mzimba, Malawi. As a young person, I am passionate about the empowerment of young people, particularly girls, to prevent gender-based violence (GBV). On completing the first YPLA training module, I was very motivated to create change in my community and country. I utilised the knowledge I had gained through the training, along with other resources, to develop a sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) training manual for community members.

By Runyararo Mutariswa

“A rapist does not have to be a stranger, someone you never saw or a man with obvious problems to be legitimate. If you have been in public with him, danced one dance, kissed him goodbye lightly with a closed mouth, pressing charges will be as hard as keeping your legs closed while five fools try and run a train on you. These men, friends of ours, who smile nicely, take you out to dinner, then lock the door behind you.”

These lines from the movie ‘For Coloured Girls’ shed some light on the problematic nature of intimate sexual violence.