By Arkangel Tembo, MANA
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has signed a petition by Plan International Malawi on Friday that calls for the end of cyber bullying, harassment and abuse of girls.
FAM President, Walter Nyamilandu said the cyber bullying, harassment and abuse silences girls’ voices and was a barrier to their development and achievements in life.
“Our women’s football players, referees, officials and fans are constantly abused, bullied and harassed on social media, Nyamilandu said.
“Just like all the girls, they cannot freely talk and showcase their careers and lifestyle online without getting abusive remarks.
Nyamilandu said that girls who play football are not being spared, saying statistics show that girls are three times more likely to be bullied on social media platforms than boys or adults.
He said because of this, most girls shy away from the cyber space, thereby being disadvantaged to access prospects available online like scholarships, jobs, businesses and many other opportunities.
“On behalf of FAM and the football fraternity, I am here to join a number of leaders in this country and beyond to endorse Plan International Malawi’s #FreeToBeOnline# campaign.
“By signing this petition, we are adding our voice from the football family calling for social media companies, authorities, internet service providers and social media users to take action in ensuring that cyber spaces are safe for girls.”
Nyamilandu noted that FAM’s commitment to support #FreeToBeOnline# campaign was timely as Malawi women’s national football team — The Scorchers — are in South Africa for the Confederation of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) championship with their opening match against Lesotho.
“We look forward to seeing them freely expressing themselves on social media platforms to celebrate their success stories at the COSAFA championship,” he he said.
Meanwhile, girls in Chiradzulu District have been advised to keep their distance from men and protect each other from rapists.
This was said on Thursday during a role modeling session that was organized by Campaign for Female Education (Camfed) to encourage girls to go further with education and also interact with young ladies that are doing well in their career.
One of the nurses and mid-wives at Chiradzulu District Health Office (DHO), Mary Lenard said the numbers of cases are increasing and each day they treat two to three victim girls of defilement or rape.
“As girls, we need to stay away from men whom we are suspecting of doing this,” she said. “Most cases are coming from relations, including biological fathers, so we need to keep distance in the way we chat with men.”
Lenard advised the girls to report any males who are asking for sexual favors including teachers who most of the time come in the name of wanting to assist them in mathematics and science subjects.
She advised them immediately seek medical attention if raped before 72 hours has elapsed to be protected from pregnancy and HIV.
One of the mothers who attended the session, Annie Basikolo said it was sad that a girl child was at risk because a day does pass without reports that a girl has been defiled.
She said worse still some are falling victims of their own biological fathers, uncles, brothers and cousins and she encouraged other mothers to teach their sons that defiling girl or raping a woman is a crime and never condone a husband to abuse her girl child.
She gave an example of a man in Traditional Authority (TA) Kadewere, who defiled his step-daughter when she was just 10 years old and the issue was discussed at family level to keep the woman’s marriage and three years later the same man defiled a three-year-old daughter of his sister in-law.
“If the first incident had been reported and dealt with accordingly, the other child could not have fallen victim.
“We should not shield these rapists to avoid a repeat of the same evil act,” Basikolo noted.—Additional reporting by Linda Likomwa, MANA