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Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School - Green Background

Country Details

Malawi

  • Republic v. Hwangwa, Malawi, High Court, 2008.
    The appellant was convicted of defiling a 12 year old girl and appealed the conviction on the grounds that the intercourse was consensual and that he believed the complainant was older than 12 years at the time. The Court dismissed the appeal and noted that the evidence was sufficient to prove a lack of consent but also that, at 12 years old, the complainant would be considered too young to give consent. 
  • Republic v. Peter, Malawi, High Court, 2008.
    The appellant was found guilty of defiling a 13 year old girl and appealed on the grounds that the sentence is excessive and that his taking care of his grandparents should be considered as a mitigating factor. The complainant had since been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection. The Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the sentence, considering the harm done to the complainant in infecting her with a sexually transmitted infection.
  • Republic v. Chiledzelere, Malawi, High Court, 2007.
    The accused was convicted of attempted rape and sentenced to five years imprisonment with hard labor for accosting the complainant and assaulting her with the intent to have intercourse with her before he was prevented from doing so by the arrival of the witness. The appeal was dismissed because the accused's actions in fondling the complainant and tearing her underwear provided clear evidence of his intent.  The sentence was upheld because of the aggravating factors that the accused was told that the complainant was a married woman and the traumatic effect of the tearing of the woman's underwear.  [Note: International legal standards do not discriminate on the basis of marital status in determining the gravity of a rape.]
  • Republic v. Mzungu, Malawi, High Court, 2007.
    The appellant was charged with defilement for having unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 13 years of age and appeals his conviction for indecent assault as it was not included in the original charge and the sentence as being excessive. The Court dismissed the appeal of the conviction on the grounds that where the evidence is sufficient to sustain the lesser charge of indecent assault but may not be sufficient for defilement, the accused may be convicted of the lesser crime even when it was not included in the original charge.   However, the Court upheld the appeal of the sentence and lowered it, in spite of the fact that women and girls need to be protected, taking into account the mitigating factor of the appellant's youth.
  • Vaux v. Vaux, Malawi, High Court, 2007.
    The petitioner-wife sought dissolution of her marriage on the grounds of abuse at the hands of respondent-husband, citing that he physically abused her and threatened her with physical force when she tried to stop him from drinking.  The Court granted the dissolution of marriage and noted that the types of mistreatment the petitioner suffered at the hands of her husband constituted gender-based violence as defined by the Declaration of the Elimination of Violence Against Women because it was based on the unequal power relations between the husband and wife and caused the petitioner serious psychological suffering.  
  • Kamwendo v. Republic, Malawi, High Court, 2004.
    The accused was convicted of rape and sentenced to a custodial term of imprisonment of 18 months.  He appeals on the grounds that the lower court erred in convicting him in contradiction of the Medical Report that found it was a fabricated rape. The Court dismissed the appeal finding that the complainant's story was corroborated by the evidence and did not therefore require the Medical Report's corroboration as well and also that the Medical Report is not to be taken as conclusive evidence of penetration.   The evidence also showed that the intercourse the appellant had with the complainant was non-consensual because the consent was fraudulently obtained.
  • Republic v. Makaluni, Malawi, High Court, 2002.
    The accused was convicted of rape and sentenced to four years' imprisonment.  The sentence was appealed by the judge in considering the lower court's judgment on the ground that the sentence is inadequate. The Court upheld the sentence as not being so excessively inadequate as to merit interference, taking note of the factors used in determining sentences for rape offenders: violence used to commit the rape, a repeated rape, a carefully planned rape, whether the defendant has previous convictions for rape or other serious offenses, whether the victim was subjected to any further sexual indignities, whether the victim was very young or very old, and the physical and mental effects upon the victim. The factors to warrant a harsher sentence were not judged to be present in this case.