30% of Malawi cops 'are HIV positive'
28 September 2016, 15:09
Lilongwe - A call for behavioural change within the ranks of Malawi's police force has been made following revelations that over 30% of the southern Africa country's police force are HIV positive.
According to Nyasa Times, Inspector General of Police Lexten Kachama urged officers to be more careful with their sexual practices as many had contracted HIV through "reckless behaviour".
Kachama said this during the launch of Theatre of Change, a sensitisation campaign targeted at police officials.
Meanwhile, Finance Director for Theatre of Change Wiseman Msimuko said that some officials demanded sex from prostitutes who would have been placed under arrest, thereby leading to a spread in the virus.
"They demand sex from prostitutes when they arrest them, they demand sex in return for freedom. They have unprotected sex with the prostitutes," he was quoted as saying.
Msimuko's utterances came just a week after a sex workers' association in the country's southern township of Mangochi launched a scathing attack on the police force for forcing sex workers to engage in sexual activities once they were put under police custody.
Sex Workers Alliance, a national grouping for sex workers recently expressed concern over an abuse of power on the part of security officials within the state.
According to a previous News24 report, sex workers from the southern city of Mwanza were rounded up and taken to a government facility for HIV testing without their consent in 2009. Their test results were also said to have been disclosed in open court.
Following a suit filed by the workers against authorities, the women were awarded damages, with the presiding judge stating that actions by both police and health workers in subjecting the women to forced HIV tests, and disclosing their status without their consent, were "irrational, unjust, unfair and unreasonable".