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By Mosidi Mokaeya
BDP Women’s Wing Chairperson Dorcas Makgatho has called on women to believe in themselves enough to collectively put an end to Gender Based Violence (GBV). This she said at the very well attended and glamourous high tea put together by the party’s women this past Saturday in Gaborone. Among those in attendance were First Lady Neo Masisi, South African Advocate Brenda Madumise from #TheTotalShutdown Movement and women from different civil society organisations.
Now in its 5th instalment, the event has in the past been used to address topical issues that affect women. This year a clear message was sent against the scourge of GBV that continues to ruin women’s lives both locally and beyond borders. “This event is not only to raise money, it is also about addressing topics that weigh heavy on us as women like that of GBV. We need to decide on which path to take as Batswana women towards a GBV free society and never back down,” Makgatho said, adding that it is time for women to be the ones leading the discussion, rather than getting involved as sideliners.
For her part Madumise said as feminists in her movement they always demand accountability over women and children. “We call all leaders in their various endeavours to take responsibility for these vulnerable members of the community. Women are special kind of voters that need to be accounted for taking into consideration their ongoing afflictions. We demand recognition and protection especially by those holding positions of power in political circles,” she said. “Law makers including dikgosi need to shift from the existing patriarchal system as it continues to rob women of their dignity and peace. We need to breakdown the social norms that we have grown accustomed to as they continue to fail us.”
According to a recent study done by Department of Women’s Affairs in conjunction with Gender Links, over two thirds, or 67 per cent of women in Botswana have experienced some form of GBV in their lifetime. The same study has also revealed 44 per cent of men have admitted to perpetrating violence against women. “Most of the violence reported occurs within intimate relationships. Emotional violence is the most common form of abuse within the intimate partner relationships. Almost a quarter of the women interviewed said they had experienced sexual harassment at school, work and in public transport or at a traditional healer. Despite the high levels of rape, only one in nine women report to the police and only one in seven seek medical attention,” the report further reads.