Botswana will on November 25 join the international community in commemorating 16 Days of Activism on Violence against Women and Children.
The 16 days of activism is a United Nations campaign that takes place each year between November 25th (International Day of No Violence against Women) and December 10th
(International Human Rights Day).
Governments and organizations across the world participate in this campaign to raise awareness of the negative impact that violence and abuse has on women and children.
There are many forms of abuse in the world, specifically in Botswana. Abuse can be in the form of rape, child abuse, sexual harassment and emotional abuse. In Botswana, we hear cases of men who molest their children and beat up their wives on a daily basis. Police statistics show that rape is one of the most common and prevalent crimes in Botswana.
The 16 days of activism are meant to, among others, increase the level of awareness amongst Batswana on the high incidence of violence committed against women and children and how it manifests itself within the country.
The 16 days of activism should be a chance for the nation to introspect, and evaluate the progress that we have made in addressing the issue of violence on women and children. It should be a chance for the nation and all concerned stakeholders to take stock of the progress that has been made, reevaluate their successes and their failures and then work to improve on their track record going forward. But more importantly, it should be a chance for the nation to heal.
Many of our women and children have been permanently scarred by the violence that society metes out to them. Their lives will never be the same again. This is a chance for society to extend a helping hand to them and embrace them. This is a chance for the nation to remember the victims of violence and abuse.
At the same time, it is a chance for the nation to rehabilitate the perpetrators of violence and abuse. It is a chance for this nation to remember that, however bad they are, perpetrators of violence and abuse can also heal.
It is a fact that most of the perpetrators of violence against women and children are men. This is the chance for men to redeem themselves and stop the violence. Men must stop beating up their wives. Men must stop molesting their children. Men must stop raping their women. Men must face up to their responsibilities and work hard to feed their children. Men must support and maintain their children. The courts are flooded with innumerable cases of maintenance. This must stop. Everyday our television sets are blighted by images of malnutritioned children who have been neglected by their families.
This is also a challenge to the government. Children are the future of this nation, and our government has the responsibility of ensuring that they grow up well so that they become able leaders of tomorrow. In the past we have heard reports of children being sent home from school because their parents did not pay their school fees. This is wrong.
Why would we deny our children a chance to be better people because of their parents’ wrongs? We should deal with the parents, and let the children get an education. Government should put in place laws and policies that ensure that our children do not starve.
We must ensure that they get an education and free health facilities.
We must, especially work to assist those unfortunate children who are from marginalized societies. It is only then that we can stand tall and proud because we would have secured the future of this country.
We have recently elected a new government into power. This is an opportune time for us as a nation to acquire a renewed understanding of women and children’s rights.
For those organizations and NGOs that advocate for the rights of women and children, we can only say thank you.
But the fact remains that you can do much better. Perhaps the greatest challenge for such organizations is for them to reach out to the marginalized communities. It is at such places that poverty, HIV-Aids, rape and violence are more prevalent. It is there that they will find the real victims of violence and abuse.