Senior Chief Lukwa of Kasungu said on Friday chiefs in the country were ready to march if parliament failed to pass the Termination of Pregnancy Bill (ToPB) during the current sitting.
Lukwa, a member of the Coalition for Prevention of Unsafe Abortion (COPUA) and Secretary General for all chiefs in the country made the remarks in Lilongwe at a press briefing organized by over 15 Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organisations who are speaking with one voice to push for the legislation of the ToPB.
“As chiefs in the country we are in support of the Bill and we are ready to march in our robes of authority if the Bill is not passed,” said Lukwa, adding: “This Bill seeks to protect our women and girls from indulging themselves in unsafe abortion which is killing them in large numbers, so who would say no to that?”
He said govt and Malawians could “not be held hostage by a few people who are against the Bill because of their lack of understanding its contents”.
The Senior Chief said Malawians, parliamentarians, and leaders who cared for the welfare of their women would not stand aside and watch them dying.
The NGOs and SCOs who are advocating for the ToPB include the COPUA, Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre (MHRRC), Centre for Human Rights Rehabilitation (CHRR), Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), Centre for Youth and Children Affairs (CEYCA), Family Planning Association of Malawi, and Centre for Youth Empowerment and Civic Education (CYECE), just to mention some.
CYECE Executive Director, Lucky Mbewe, concurred with Lukwa saying the problem with those opposing the passing of the Bill was that they did not take time to read it carefully to understand what the Bill was implying.
On the other hand, MHRRC Acting Director and Chairperson for the NGO Gender Coordinating Network, Emma Kaliya, said the campaign for the ToPB would not end until they won.
“We are not going to relent in our efforts because we know what is good for our women,” said Kaliya. “We saw others expressing their views but they should respect our views because they are the views of Malawian women and girls and all who wish them well.”
In 2012 a a Special Law Commission was tasked to conduct a review on the abortion related laws as per the provision of the Penal Code’s Section 243 which criminalizes termination of pregnancy except where the life of the woman is in danger.
But the reformed law seeks to allow termination of pregnancy in cases of rape, incest, featal malformation and where the pregnancy puts the woman’s life in danger.