Boys being robbed of their private parts in Malawi0 Comments

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Posted on 19 Mar 2014 at 1:04pm

He was just an innocent boy who always dreamed to be a man someday in future. But when his private parts disappeared mysteriously over a year ago in an accident, he has had to contend with trauma, a situation which has worsened as justice, his only hope, gets murkier. CLIFTON KAWANGA tells this story of injustice.

An image published by the Nyasa Times said to show a man's penis (Censored)

An image published by the Nyasa Times said to show a man’s penis (Censored)

Promise (real name withheld) is not the first one to have his private parts removed; he will not be the last one either.
Someday his case will just be another statistic that will not make any difference in the pursuit of children’s rights in Malawi.
The day that started promisingly ended tragically for little Promise when he woke up to the sight of a deep wound in his private parts. The private parts were gone.
While walking about in Ndirande Township, in the company of his 10-year-old friend, Promise was hit by a minibus as he attempted to cross the road. The last thing he remembers is that he had looked left, then right and left again before crossing.
The accident took place near Nasolo Bridge. He sustained bruises on his thighs, left hand, abdomen and traumatic amputation of scrotum, according to a police report.
But, unconvinced with the police’s narration of the sequence of events that cost the boy his private parts, relatives sought assistance from Eye of the Child.
The detailed report from Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) contradicted the initial report from Ndirande Police about how the boy’s private parts disappeared.
A competent doctor who conducted examination on the boy indicated that “only injuries to the boy’s limbs and lower abdomen are consistent with the road traffic accident but serious injuries to his penis and scrotum cannot be attributed to the road accident.”
Guardian’s explanation
Chifundo Yakobe is the boy’s uncle who rushed to Ndirande Police after the driver and the boy’s friend informed him of the accident in the afternoon of that ill-omened day in November, 2012.

“I went to police where they advised me to go to Queens [Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital]. I found my nephew on a wheel chair and in great pain. I saw his bruised thighs but I was shocked to see that his private parts were not there,” Yakobe says.
His explanation supports the doctor’s report that the boy’s private parts were removed before he was taken to the hospital. This defeats another theory that the procedure might have taken place at the hospital.
“When I arrived at the hospital, I accompanied my nephew to the X-Ray department to find out whether he had internal injuries. We then went to the theatre but the doctors could not trace the parts of the removed organ,” he says.
The relatives are convinced that the boy is a victim of some rituals.
Police U-turn
The story of the boy was first reported in The Weekend Times in January 2013. It was reported again in December 2013. The police had initially said the findings were conclusive; they were not.
Upon insistence of the boy’s family, the police made a U-turn and promised to investigate how the boy lost his private parts.
The case was referred to Blantyre Police for further investigation. It was then transferred to Police Headquarters where a report was supposed to be prepared and sent to the State Advocate for advice.
The State Advocate Primrose Chimwaza contends that she did not get the report from the police.
Who took the private parts?
The family is not convinced the private parts were lost through the accident as the police indicated in their initial report.
However, the procedure did not happen at the hospital either, raising questions over the handling of the matter by Ndirande police who only fined the minibus driver.

“The first time I saw my nephew at the hospital, he did not have his private parts. We were made to believe that he lost his private parts on the scene of the accident,” says Yakobe.
Yakobe’s account and the initial medical report at QECH suggest that the boy did not have his private parts when he was taken to the hospital.
‘Informed consent’
If the procedure to remove the ‘damaged’ private parts took place at the hospital without consent, the practitioners must have faced disciplinary action.
Medical Council of Malawi (MCM) guidelines “urge all practitioners to ensure that as far as possible informed consent is obtained before any procedure is carried out on a patient. Where the procedure is a major one, a written consent shall be obtained. In obtaining informed consent a practitioner shall explain the full nature, extent and potential complications of the procedure to be carried out on the patient”.
MCM further states that “in the case of persons who may be unable to give informed consent including minors, unconscious or psychiatric patients, the most senior practitioner in consultation with the parent or guardian may give consent for the procedure or treatment, and such consent should as far as possible be witnessed by a second practitioner. In the event of differing opinion between the parent or guardian and the practitioner, the practitioner’s stand shall prevail in the best interest of the concerned person.”
This therefore disputes the theory that the amputation took place at the hospital.
If the amputation took place at the hospital, would the practitioner have gone ahead without with the procedure without seeking the guardian’s consent as the council stipulates?
“The hospital did not carry out that procedure. I was the only one around to give consent if there was need,” says Yakobe.
No foul play, says State Advocate
In an interview, State Advocate Chimwaza dismissed the view by Excellence Law Partners, a firm providing legal services to Promise through Eye of the Child, that there was foul play in the accident that led to the loss of the boy’s private parts.
Chimwaza also claimed that she did not get the detailed report from Police Headquarters after questionable conduct of Ndirande Police officers.
“It is not true that I got the report from the Police … I knew about the matter from Excellence Chambers (sic) because I think they are the ones pushing the matter,” she said.
She said Excellence Law Partners sued an insurance company for compensation and damages.
“What does that tell you? The same people were claiming foul play and the same people are suing the insurance company so you might take that angle,” she said.
But Excellence Law Partners lawyer Bruno Matumbi said the firm cannot comment on their suspicions at this point.
“We cannot comment because this may infringe on client confidentiality. All we can say is that we are working on the matter and we shall get the most favourable outcome for our client,” he says.
Calling for justice
For the protection of the child, Eye of the Child obtained a Safety Home Order from Blantyre Child Justice Court on January 17, 2013. The boy is safe for now.
Eye of the Child Executive Director, Maxwell Matewere, believes this is a great opportunity to make a statement and protect thousands of children in Malawi who might become victims of similar practices.
“We are holding government responsible and we need an explanation. This is the reason we have not yet engaged the minibus driver, the owner and insurance company.
“The citizens trust the police and government for justice; we therefore want the government to explain why they treated the case as minor,” Matewere says.
He says his organisation will decide the course of action after hearing from the government.
“The government should just accept it has treated the victim as garbage, a poor boy with no voice,” Matewere says adding that this is “a clear case of neglect”.

He says they will seek answers from the Minister of Justice and the President.
“All people that mishandled the case need to be dismissed including the Minister of Home Affairs. We will appreciate a public statement to explain why the police didn’t care about the poor child,” he says.
The Convention on the Rights of Children recognises the fundamental human dignity of all children and the urgency of ensuring their well-being and development. But despite the existence of such instruments, children continue to suffer from poverty, homelessness, abuse, neglect, preventable diseases, unequal access to education and justice systems that do not recognise their special needs.
“Promise’s situation presents us with the opportunity to show our commitment in ensuring that children are fully protected by the systems we have in place,” Matewere declares.

Cliff Kawanga

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