No, Madonna is not pulling another child away from her family. Although she did release a statement regarding the incident; “I am shocked and saddened by the decision made this week by the Malawian court, which sentenced two innocent men to prison.”
But lets start at the begin. A gay couple, Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, both Malawi citizens, decided to celebrate their engagement party at a hotel knowing the prospect. The police were tipped off and the two were arrested. In the Christian dominated country gay activities are forbidden. According to the law the maximum sentence is 14 years imprisonment. The judge was merciless; “We are sitting here to represent the Malawi society, which I do not believe is ready at this point in time to see its sons getting married to other sons or conducting engagement ceremonies”. The two were given the full sentence.
The Malawi court decision caused an international turmoil. Human right organisations and gay right activists together with world leaders condemned the sentenced of the two. The media caught on the case and the story appeared in no time in news papers around the world. The sudden commotion prompted the secretary general of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon to travel to the southern African country to persuade Bingu wa Mutharika, the President of Malawi. Following the high profile visit the president of Malawi pardoned the two and their sentence was repealed, setting the couple free. At a news conference the President said the boys committed a crime against Malawi’s culture, religion and laws but nevertheless was ordering the couple’s unconditional release on ‘humanitarian grounds’. In the end The UN secretary general and the organisations got their way. Steven and Tiwonge were freed and they could return to their families and loved ones. End of story.
But hold up before you run the titles. There’s a little but in this scenery. Malawi is not just a Southern African country. Malawi is an extreme poor country and corruption is widespread. A million plus of the citizens have H.I.V. and many children are growing up without parents. The country depends heavily on foreign aid and charity from outside. More than half of the 13 million populations don’t have access to the standard basic needs. Children usually have to choose between food and education. The stories are heart wrenching. And this is something that has been going on for years and rapidly increasing if the world community doesn’t act. The Malawi Government knows this, the media and the UN know about this epidemic as well. And yet, it is like a ghost story at the homes of the world community. But let two gay activists find themselves in the ditch and you have the world spitting tantrum. The highest man at the UN himself went to Malawi, freed two gay activists and then returned home like those two were Malawi’s only problem.
As a front fighter of individual rights I am pleased the two were freed. Every individual on this earth has the right to live his life and practice as he pleased, as long as no one is genuinely hurt. The world is forever changing and those who do not seek peace will perish. However what makes me alarmed and I think millions others as well, is the fact that the UN were so involved in this particular case but lack any ambition to press on the Malawian president to hear the people cry. If the media, the activists and the UN make the same effort we might get somewhere and free millions of children from seeing a grim future.
UPDATE: upon their release the two men separated. Steven reportedly told the media he is falling for a woman. According to his other part Tiwonge Chimbalanga he was pressed to do so by his family.