Normalization and a lack of reporting of gender based violence are being described as the main issues increasing the occurrence of the acts in tertiary institutions.
The sentiments are according to officials from Engender Health, an organization implementing a gender based violence prevention and services project.
The organization during an orientation of first year and continuing students at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources – LUANAR Bunda campus has noted that reluctance from students to report the matters is a common trend.
Engender Health Project Director, Chisomo Kaufulu-Kumwenda, however believes the intervention her organization has brought is making a huge difference so far.
“This is a continuation of efforts that we started last year and we are happy that this year the theme for 16 days of activism is addressing gender based violence in the workplace and tertiary institutions.
“We noted that there is a lot of intervention on gender based violence in primary and secondary schools but less at tertiary levels hence our interest,” noted Kaufulu-Kumwenda.
She continued to highlight that there are only a few girls making it to tertiary institutions and gender equality would not be reached if the girls face violence in the school system.
The project on essential gender based violence prevention and services in tertiary institutions targets the school’s administration to strengthen the response mechanism on gender based violence. It also targets students who need empowerment.
Assistant Registrar responsible for students’ welfare at LUANAR, Noel Jambo, has also attested to the presence of gender based violence in the campus saying they usually happen in relationships among students.
He has indicated that violence happens when a boyfriend beats up his girlfriend, sexually forcing himself on his girlfriend or drunken students insulting female students within the campus.
“It’s not 100 percent that these girls would report the scenarios to authorities because of the understanding that girls must endure such circumstances and it is happening in petty relationships now. But we try to teach and enlighten them on the right way of handling such issues,” added Jambo.
Despite it being a gradual process to get girls affected with gender based violence come in the open, officials from Engender Health believe substantial progress is being made, mostly during the orientations where a number of girls often approach them to discuss what they face privately.
The U.S. Department of State funded project started last year at LUANAR’s Bunda and NRC campuses and over 300 students have been oriented on prevention of gender based violence.