Like many other countries across the globe, Botswana has not been spared from the agony that is caused by Gender Based Violence (GBV).
The scariest part is that the country is slowly becoming an epicenter of this deadly monster in Africa.
Botswana is ranked the second country with the highest number of gender-based violence cases in Africa after South Africa.
This heart wrenching situation has compelled a 26-year-old and self-taught makeup artist Bame Khiwa, who hails from Tonota, to use her body as a canvas to bring awareness on gender-based violence. She paints the top half of her body using make up to spread the message.
The youthful artist uses her mirror as her second pair of eyes to help guide her. She uses her body as a canvas to draw on. She believes her art is the voice to the voiceless and enlightens the world on various issues that are affecting them mostly GBV.
In an interview with Arts & Society at her studio in Francistown, Khiwa explained that she believes that men are not given an ear when it comes to issues of abuse. According to her, the roots of GBV are deeper than what meets the eye. She is of the view that boys are brought up in a way that takes away their voices, as they are expected to be strong and emotionless beings despite the emotional pain they go through. She emphasized that they grow into emotionally broken people who later transform into monsters.
Khiwa said most men are perpetrators and commit horrendous gender related crimes out of anger and frustrations.
“I believe through this kind of art we can be able to raise awareness about this monster. Gender based violence is very serious and it should be purged at all costs,” she said.
“Men do not communicate easily and bottle emotions unlike their female counterparts. In fact men fear to show their emotions for fear of being perceived as weaklings. Men are egoists in nature and they hate to be perceived as weak. They would rather bottle their emotions rather than seek help. This then explodes leading into a spiral of violence, bloodshed and even loss of lives,” she added.
She vowed to use her makeup art to speak on behalf of men, women, girls and boys as this issue equally affects all of them. She said it is sad that for a long time the society has more often swept GBV issues under the carpet. Khiwa also said it is sad that some of the perpetrators are not brought to book and continue engage in GBV as they please.
“This monsters should be arrested and locked in prison where they belong,” she said.
Arts & Society conducted interviews to seek opinions from members of the public on issues of GBV in Francistown.
Bokani Nthoiwa a resident of Somerset in Francistown said both genders can be victims of GBV. He however said it is unfortunate that only females are given the priority when it comes to GBV issues. “Men are not given a chance to express how they feel when it comes to issues of GBV. I lost my brother because his abuse was turned into a mockery when he reported the matter to the authorities. He became too frustrated and took his own life,” said Nthoiwa.
A resident of Bluetown in Francistown who preferred anonymity said that issues of GBV in Botswana are mainly caused by how people are raised. He said that the common belief that a boy child is not supposed to express their emotions is wrong as it leads to issues of anger and aggression leading to such issues of GBV.
“I believe both genders should be taken into consideration when it comes to gender based violence in order to find a solution. This is the only way to root out this escalating problem,” he said.
Sparks Nsumiwa who is also from Bluetown Francistown also concurred that men are victims of the GBV as well but more often such a fact is overlooked. He said this is one of the issues that should be addressed in order to stem out the whole problem.