The Malawi High Court on Thursday ordered the police force to financially compensate 18 women and girls who were raped and assaulted by officers in the small town of Nsundwe on the outskirts of the capital Lilongwe.
The Women Lawyers Association (WLA) instituted court action after the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) said it had established that police officers raped 13 women and one girl, and sexually assaulted three other girls under the age of 18 years during an operation in October.
The police operation took place when former President Peter Mutharika was still in office, and followed the killing of a police officer by anti-government protesters.
The police are thought to have gone to the area to avenge the death of a colleague.
In his ruling, High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda ordered that the women and girls be compensated for all the pain and trauma they had suffered.
An assessment of how much they should receive should be done within 21 days by the Registrar of the High Court.
WLA president Tadala Chimkwezule said they were forced to take legal action because “the police had clearly abdicated its responsibility and constitutional duty”.