Sunday, August 7, 2022

BONELA and former offenders at odds over condom distribution

There is disagreement between the Botswana Network on Ethics Law and HIV/AIDs (BONELA) and the Botswana Institute of Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Offenders (BIRRO) over the distribution of condoms in prisons.

The BIRRO has called for research to be undertaken before the government distributes condoms in prisons, while BONELA is calling for distribution to curb the new infections.

BIRRO Chairman, Mothei Sejakgomo, stated in an interview that there is need for research to be undertaken to find out if, indeed, there is a need to give prisoners condoms.

“We will be in a position to take a decision that will be influenced by research. We have requested that the Department of Social Services carry out a research. If the outcome shows that there is a need to distribute the condoms, we will support the idea but not now,” said Sejakgomo.

He stated that they always differ with BONELA on several issues though they have a good relationship.

Sejakgomo stated that they are areas where they agree on certain issues but on distribution of condoms he contended that there is a need fo research to be undertaken.

“We are not denying that there are cases where prisoners engage in such behaviour, which could expose them to HIV/AIDs. We have been there but the issue of condom distribution is not the only main issue that needs to be addressed. They are many issues that we are concerned about that have to be provided to prisoners. We talk about causes and other activities that could rehabilitate the prisoners,” added Sejakgomo.

His sentiments come at a time when organisations, such as BONELA, are calling on government to distribute condoms in prisons to curb new infections amongst prisoners.

Sejakgomo stated that they are pending issues that need to be attended to before the condoms are distributed, saying that they can only take a decision on whether there should be distribution of condoms after research is undertaken.

“If the research outcome comes with a recommendation to distribute condoms we will support it based on research,” he said.

Sejakgomo stated that his organisation was aware that there are convicted people who come to the prison without HIV but are HIV positive when they leave the prison. He urged for an urgent research to resolve the problem that has been in the public sphere for a long time.

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