Jan 2, 2022
Challenges of rampant corruption is of much concern in Malawi. With the government instituting the body, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) an agent to help curb this vice in the country. Nevertheless, corruption still keeps on thriving with those in positions of authority shielded by power and status fueling it from high political cycles to petty bribery that impedes service delivery and access to social services and justice. This result in high patronage and nepotism that exacerbates inequality and poverty in Malawi and particularly among the youth who usually fall victims of this internalized organized criminal act of extortion that exist in both private and public offices.
In Malawi extortion is usually prosecuted using gender-based violence elements such that it is not recognized by the ordinary people as corrupt practice. Extortion is the most common form of crime amongst the youth at community and nation level. Extortion has been systematically used to victimize the youth who make up a large percentage of those seeking employment, business opportunities and access to other social services among others. Being the most populace group and among poor people in Zomba district of Malawi, the youth are facing extortion in work and business places. The victims of extortion in Malawi are being failed by the system. They face obstacles to access justice and support, they have nowhere to turn to so they stay silent. Meanwhile, the perpetrators go unpunished.
Early this year I was privileged to be selected as one of the Resilience Fund Fellows from around the world and organisation that provides grants and support to civil society individuals and organizations working to counter the impacts of criminal governance and violence across the world
The project aims at ending the silence among the youth through information campaigns and initiatives for increasing the awareness and the knowledge among the victims of extortion and Malawi as a whole. The goal is to help the victims come out of silence and to promote zero tolerance to extortion crimes. The project has so far encouraged victims to speak out through awareness and sensitization campaigns. The project target are young people in work places, job seekers, and those searching for business opportunities.
What are we fighting for?
Most victims of extortion choose to be silent because they are denied the platform to speak out and for fear of loosing out, while those who stand up against the perpetrator suffer negative consequences. The project, Extortion and Organized Crime Facing Young People in Malawi, is serving to address this issue by making sure that the voices, concerns and priorities of victims of extortion are heard and provided for. Fear of reprisal, retaliation and corruption are the significant barriers to reporting extortion in Malawi, especially because of the power asymmetry between the survivor/ victim and the perpetrator. In addition, there are few safer, confidential and gender-sensitive reporting mechanisms that give victims of extortion access to appropriate support such as physical, psychological and legal advice. Due to the culture of silence that exists in the communities even those who are aware of incidents of extortion do not come out to speak about it and the victims suffer in silence. The project has so far gone beyond defining extortion, and now there are real-life situation in which some of the victims are breaking the silence and tell their story.