Malawi Parliament Consents Workplace Relationships

Chairperson of Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament Peter Dimba has backed the decision by the House to remove a clause in a Bill which could have criminalized consensual sexual relationship in workplaces, saying Parliament acted under pressure from men.

Parliament on Monday passed the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill which has decriminalized consensual sex in workplaces.

Dimba said the Committee received too many calls and letters mostly from men, requesting that the clause be removed.

He said, in the letters sent to the Committee, men and some organizations complained that if the clause is left in the Penal Code, a big number of men will end up in jail as it is difficult to prove that a man was dating a junior at the office because he took advantage of his position.

Dimba added that, it is further difficult to prove as in some cases it can be the lady provoking the man.

“Awa ndi anthu akuluakulu, mzimai ndi mzibambo wankulu kugwirizana kuti apange chibwenzi, ndiye anthu akuona kuti iyi si nkhani yoti boma lilowelerepo kuti mpaka mzibambo-yo akakhale ku ndende zaka 7 pa nkhani yoti anthu anagwirizana”, said Dimba.

Dimba has therefore said the removal of the clause will not contribute to increase in such acts as there are other provisions in the Penal Code that can be used if indeed a man is in the wrong.

“The August House found its application quite problematic but it does not mean that the abuse of position of trust or authority to solicit consensual sex or commit sexual harassment at work place is no longer an offense.

“Sexual harassment in workplace or anywhere else still remains an offense punishable by law. The Penal code still has other provisions that criminalize such offenses,” said Dimba.

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