Tuesday, October 27, 2020

GBV is a scourge that is blighting our society

This past week, President Mokgweetsi Masisi finally took the bull by the horns.

After what seemed like an indefinite wait, the nation got to hear the president talk about Gender Based Violence.

The speech was like a nation talking to itself.

If there is one area where there is unqualified unity, it has to be on Gender Based Violence.

It is one area that knows no party politics.

He addressed the nation, not only on the evils of Gender Based Violence, but also that it is alien to our culture of Botho.

Botswana culture should and must never be used to justify violence against women and children.

Women and children are by far the biggest victims of this endemic crime.

Boy children grow to become perpetrators.

This is because in many instances they have not been taught how to handle and cope with rejection.

They have not been taught how to show love. And crucially, many of them get to face this hand on in their own with no benefit of proper advice and socialization.

In a way, socialization makes them perpetrators.

Society has let these young people down big time.

Yet we expect to see them somehow conform to the expectations we have of them, without having taken them by hand to give them real life lessons.

They are as such in a big way they are themselves victims of circumstances that are not of their own making.

Getting rid of this societal scourge will need understanding of the root causes.

Getting to address symptoms will not go far in solving the problem.

The president talked of creating a register of perpetrators.

That is a good idea.

But if root causes are not addressed soon it will become clear to us in no time that the register is nothing more than climbing the tree at the branches.

Lofty aims as expressed by the president in his speech on Friday have to be matched by concrete and measurable actions.

It was a statement by the Commissioner of Police that set the ball rolling when he said statistics showed that multiple cases of rape on a daily basis in Botswana are being reported..

Clearly data exists.

We now need to act on that data.

As the president has set the ball rolling, the national expectation now revolves around the whole government machinery waking up from its current slumber to ensure that all issues of Gender Based Violence are addressed with the verve, vigour and zeal that requires of them.

The starting point must be the implementation of recommendations made in the past by various comprehensive studies on Gender Based Violence.

One study recommended that a national coordinating arrangement be in put in place on Gender Based Violence. The study underscored the importance of periodic Gender Based Violence surveys in order to measure progress to reduce GBV in Botswana. This is especially important given the under-report extent by the police.

It is also recommended that monitoring and evaluation strategies be built into the action plan from the inception. The GBV Indicators Botswana study provides a baseline. Ongoing monitoring evaluation strategies must flow from the findings.

A national data base on GBV was also recommended for establishment as the data could be used to inform decisions on policy on GBV. This is viewed to be critical for successful GBV programming informed by evidence. The requirement for all service providers to provide statistics will also allow for greater accountability within sectors.

There is also need for the development and institutionalization of clear referral system for GBV service providers. A clear and effective referral system is critical in reducing the possibility of secondary victimization and in ensuring that survivors access all the GBV services they need. Government should further make provision for facilities of protection as specified in the Domestic Violence Act  and needs to allocate resources for the running of existing shelters and for the establishment of more facilities.

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Read this week's paper

The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.