Posted on January 8, 2021

Superstition Blamed for Rise in Malawi Rape Cases

Lameck Masina, Voice of America, December 15, 2020

Malawi police this week announced that recorded cases of rape in the country have more than doubled since 2018, with young girls as the main victims.  Law enforcement authorities blame superstitious beliefs that defiling a minor brings luck or wealth for the rise in rape and sexual assault.  {snip}

Spokesperson for Malawi Police Service James Kadadzera expressed particular concern over the substantial rise in cases of rape against minors compared to cases involving adults.


Figures from the National Statistics Office show that for the last three months of this year alone, the rate of sexual abuse cases has been 35% higher than the same period last year.


In a recent incident, police arrested a 31-year-old man in Zomba district accused of raping a five-month-old baby on November 25.

This came a few weeks after police in Blantyre arrested a man for allegedly raping a two-year-old female child, killing her and dumping her body in a black plastic bag.

Kadadzera said police investigations have revealed that more men sleep with minors largely because of superstitions that if one sleeps with a minor that person would get cured from chronic disease, get rich or promoted at work.


Rachel Warren, a lecturer in Anthropology at Catholic University, says it is not easy for Malawi just like other African societies to move away from superstition-driven crimes.

“No, it will not end. It’s part of our belief systems that actually exist among us. They are entrenched in us. {snip},” Warren said.