By Mpho Kuhlmann
Every day, at least one Botswana underage kid is groped and coerced into having sexual relations with someone older than them, someone they look up to, someone they know as family.
This is according to recorded official data. The situation may be far worse as most paedophile cases are never reported.
Botswana Police Service spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Witness Boseja says statistics show that from January to May 2017, they recorded 171 cases of defilement. He revealed that in 2017 there were 617 cases as compared to 543 cases in 2015. “In the past Batswana treated such cases as top secret but through our community outreach and seminars, cases of this nature are being reported. We have also partnered with schools because most of the victims are school-going children, to report anything to us if they can identify any abnormalities in the learners’ behaviour. We also addressed Dikgosi through police forums regarding such offenses and since then such cases are reported and prosecuted before court.”
Dr Sethunya Mosime, University Of Botswana, senior Sociology lecturer says paedophilia is deemed as shameful as often times it is done by a close relative. “Grooming is about power over the child and using that power to maintain the secret. It is about making sure the child never tells. Grooming can take place over days, weeks or years. A groomer taking time to ‘groom’ enables trust between the abuser and the child (and the family) to build up. This trust, in turn, creates opportunities for regular abuse to occur. Making the child feel extra special by giving them special presents and treats and/or taking them on outings makes the child feel as if they are the groomer’s ‘confidante’. The vast majority of paedophiles are male, but the amount of female paedophiles is still much harder to evaluate given that their deviancy can find outlets that are far more discrete. Paedophiles can be found in all social classes”
The growing numbers of reported paedophilia cases presented by the Botswana Police Service suggests that the crime is losing its shock value and becoming more and more pronounced in our society.
The perpetrator might be an uncle, a brother, a family friend, neighbour or even a coach at school, basically it could be anyone. Child sex offenders ‘groom’ both the child and the family. Often skilled at deception and conniving in all their perverse undertakings, they will plan in detail how they will spend time with the family and the child, how they will get time alone with the child, and especially what threats they will use on the child in order for the abuse not to be revealed. Ensuring the child ‘keeps the secret’ is of extreme importance to the offender. Because the offender is often a person well-known and trusted to the child and their family, they can easily arrange to be alone with the child ÔÇö therefore the abuse is commonly repeated. This abuse rarely involves violence because instead of force, these offenders use promises, threats and bribes to take advantage of their trusted relationship with the child’s family and the subsequent powerlessness of the child. In some cases, this can go on for years. Paedophilia is being attracted or having a sexual interest in a prepubescent or early pubescent kid
At some point in time, hearing of grown adults having sexual relations with minors as young as five years old would be enough to send chills but in a world intensely immoral, such weird events are losing their ability to shock. The family, a social unit setup as a safe haven for children is now a potential breeding place for paedophiles. Children who live with two married biological parents are at low risk for abuse while the risk increases for children who live with step-parents or a single parent. Solid families protect children whereas broken homes tend to expose them to terrible danger. Paedophilia is rising, and fathers aren’t there to stop it. As more families fracture, the demand for sex with children is growing. And people are supplying that demand. Although paedophilia can happen in urban as well as rural areas it is most prevalent in the rural areas. Most parents in Central, North East and in the Gantsi districts usually do not protect their children’s rights because of their social economic status. Most of the cases in which minors are sexually abused are aided by parents who sweep such incidents under the rug. These people look at the perpetrator’s status in the community and fail to report their acts to the police. Batswana are somewhat selective on what they want to talk about and paedophilia is at the bottom of the list. Parents who tend to speak to their kids about sexual offences are middle and high-class families who understand and take their kid’s rights seriously.
Thato Sono an accountant at Stanlib Investment Management Services in Gaborone says paedophilia has been around for many years in Botswana. “It’s much easier to deal with the odd deranged individual who engages in this kind of thing. The main problem lies with those to whom such repulsive conduct is a “cultural” practice. How can you punish (and thus deter) such behaviour when it is literally encouraged by the very society to whom it should be repugnant act?”
Nametsegang Oketsang who works at Pula Medical Aid in Gaborone; says paedophilia is real and hidden in this country. “No country does enough to address this problem. Offenders are often “treated” and called “rehabilitated” or “controlled”. Then they are released to prey on other children. People who molest children cannot be changed. This is difficult for many in society (any society) to accept. They pose an ever-present danger. A society either accepts that some of it’s most vulnerable members will be preyed upon, their lives forever blighted, or will have to make the difficult decision to remove paedophiles from society permanently, by execution perhaps, or life imprisonment with no possibility of parole. Execution would be more economical and certain.”