The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) has reported Malawi to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, raising concerns over the criminalisation of same sex acts between women, compulsory HIV testing, property rights and the health impact of discriminatory property rights.
The development comes at a time when the committee is expected to review the country’s state report outlining measures backing its adherence to the commitments it made when it acceded to the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women. The review will take place between 26 October and 20 November this year.
The convention is an international treaty signed by 188 states.
SALC Regional Advocacy Director, Muluka Miti- Drummond, confirmed in an e-mailed response that the centre had submitted a shadow report.
“Malawi has agreed to be accountable to the Committee in matters related to eliminating discrimination against women. The Committee is, therefore,in a position to question the government regarding human rights violations in this area and make recommendations for the improvement of the human rights situation of women in the country,” said Miti-Drummond.
“SALC, therefore, requests the Committee to raise concerns with the Government of Malawi regarding the human rights violations mentioned in the report. The organisation further requests the Committee to seek clarification from the government regarding the steps being taken to end these human rights violations and when these steps are likely to be implemented.”
Miti-Drummond said, among other things, the centre was not happy with the practice of conducting compulsory HIV testing. The women rights advocate said SALC expects the Committee to express concern over this practice and ascertain from the government what is being done to ensure this does not become part of common practice, policy or law in Malawi.
Ironically, the HIV and Aids Prevention and Management Bill initially included a provision allowing for compulsory HIV testing.