Gender based violence (GBV) is regarded as one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. It is not selective of its victims. GBV strips its victims, the majority of whom are women and girls, their dignity and the violence undermines their health, security, self-esteem and autonomy.
In Botswana, over 67% of women and girls are reported to have experienced some sort of abuse. This is over double the global average; making Botswana a risky place for women and girls to live.
While men are major perpetrators, there is a narrative which the society keeps running away from, ‘that of women being silent instigators of gender-based violence.’
Arts & Society recently caught up with Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of the Balete tribe in Botswana to hear her views on gender-based violence. As a community leader who often resolves domestic issues, Kgosi Seboko says her observations show women more often tend to start the journey leading to GBV.
She points out that women sometimes start the process by knowingly dating men who are already in relationships, married or even double dating or cheating men.
“With the rise of technology, our society sees bad things as good and good things as bad,” she says.
“We gloat after snatching another women’s man and when the man gives more love and attention to his woman, the so called ‘side chick/ nyatsi’ fights back. This behavior on its own shows we do not know our worth as women,” Kgosi Seboko observes.
“One of the acts I wish women could stop is cohabitation,” she says. Kgosi Seboko says cohabitation leads to so many ill behaviors including abuse due to the fact that as a woman you tend to display all yourself to a man who has not married you.
She says the sad part about it is that most of the relationships of cohabiting partners never make it down the aisle.
“Most of relationships that involve cohabitation are characterized by cheating. There was an incident where one lady came to me saying she was cohabitating. Unfortunately, the man started cheating and to deal with the situation she would harass the man in all kinds of manner. In return her slaps were reversed by blows to her face,” she says.
One of the most annoying behaviors the female gender displays is that of entitlement, that men owe them something.
She says this feeling of entitlement is causing more harm because as men buy them cars, gifts, houses and send money, they feel a sense of ownership over them, leading to mistreatment.
“Girls should stop the nonsensical mindset of being entitled to be provided for by men and particularly boyfriends,” she advises.
Kgosi Seboko says as times change, there also has to be a change of the mindset. “This is where education comes in ‘Thuto ke thebe ya rona rotlhe’, and no one can take it away from you,” she says.
She says women and girls should rather aspire for good education as ‘it helps one to adjust to life situations.’ As a Chief, she says some relationships and abuse cases brought before her are just bizarre and they are traced to where they all began, the ladies are the instigators.
“Imagine a girl crying that she was dating a guy and now the guy went back to her baby mother. I told her she should be happy for her because she would not want to be in her shoes. Her response was, “he buys me 1,2,3 things, and I was shocked,” she says.
“I tried to help her by taking her to business conferences but she never attended because she wants a man who does things for her,” she added.
“Please be mindful that I am not speaking on behalf of any gender,” she states, adding that she is just trying to balance these morally ill behaviours.
“Truth of the matter is that as women we tend to cause most of the fights at home. We do not know how to deal with situations when they arise and that costs us because in return they turn around and bite us,” she concluded.
Kgosi Seboko says any intention to stop GBV should include openly speaking to transgressions across the gender divide.
She says negative attitudes and behaviors that promote and drive gender inequality and abuse, can be unlearned with the help of proper education and engagement with both genders.