Gendered corruption: Initial insights into sextortion and double bribery affecting female businesswomen in Malawi

This report offers an initial insight into the problem of gendered corruption, including sextortion and so-called double bribery, based on interviews with 19 businesswomen in Malawi. Part of a wider research project into procurement corruption, the interviews aimed to explore the extent of gendered corruption as a coercive form of social exchange, as well as the role of informal corrupt networks in magnifying gender-specific inequalities.

Though based on a small sample in one particular context, the findings indicate that more research into this topic is urgently needed globally with a view to mainstreaming sexual corruption into anti-corruption programming. Initial findings indicate that:

  • Sextortion, forced sexual favours, "double bribery" and other forms of sexual corruption are perceived to be widespread in Malawi. 
  • Women's risk of being subjected to sexual corruption increases in informal network settings, such as those in which business takes place.
  • Socio-economic factors and gender-imbalanced power dynamics play an important role in enabling sexual corruption to take place with impunity.
  • Trustworthy reporting and support mechanisms for sexual corruption are said to be lacking. 
  • Existing female-only business self-help groups could provide a strong base for enabling women to address issues of sexual corruption and related gendered violence. 

Overall, there is a great need for more research and policy attention globally to gendered corruption and related issues that still remain – tragically – hidden from view or considered as normal. 

About this publication

The research underpinning this report has been undertaken in support of the Tackling Serious and Organised Crime (TSOC) programme in Malawi, which is funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

Suggested citation: Stahl, C., 2021. Gendered corruption: Initial insights into sextortion and double bribery affecting female businesswomen in Malawi. Basel Institute on Governance,….

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Gendered corruption publication
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Basel Institute on Governance