Friday, May 20, 2022

GBV will sink this country if it is not given more attention

There is no doubt that Gender Based violence has become a major human catastrophe that is eating up the nerve centre of our society.

Something has to be done to shore up the current efforts to fight Gender Based Violence in all its forms.

The simple truth is that our national efforts are falling far short to make a dent on GBV, much less bring it to an end.

GBV has now reached crisis levels. GBV, we should never forget is the outcome of a culture of abuse that we have tolerated for a very long time as a people.

It has been allowed to become a part of both our evolution and our sociology.

As a people we have not frowned strongly enough at GBV.

We are paying the price. And reversing that culture will not happen overnight.

The solution to the crisis will require imagination and creativity.

We will need new and much more portent tools.

Thankfully the president of the republic, Mokgweetsi Masisi has lent his hand and has already determined that GBV is a big problem for Botswana.

To that end the president has also committed his government to fighting GBV.

That is the starting point.

Beyond that what are needed are plans and strategies.

Botswana police has to be retooled. So too should be our courts and our prosecutions units.

There is need for a National Strategic Plan.

It is disheartening that in this day and era, our government still thinks it alone can do everything.

Fighting GBV should be private sector led.

All the government could do is to create a roadmap and ensure that the minister gives power to those driving it.

For that strategy to bear fruits, it has to get well funded.

Government is doing something, but as many will agree it is far from enough.

When the President delivered a keynote address on GBV  last year he mentioned establishing a specialized police unit to tackle the matter.

The president was spot on.

There is need for police retraining and retooling to address this matter.

Current police culture is toxic and often exacerbate the wounds of the abused.

But police are not the only ones in need of a refocus.

District Commissioners and marriage counsellors too should come to the party.

They are immensely important stakeholders.

Whenever they get an opportunity – and it is almost on a daily basis – they should harp on the issue of GBV.

People found to have engaged in these heinous crimes should not only be jailed, efforts at therapy and rehabilitation should equally be strengthened.

At the moment continued absence of a plan of action is a real source for concern.

It is an open secret that more and more people who have been subjected to abuse never come out to report their cases to the police.

Many others who report the cases ultimately withdraw the cases.

This is so for various reasons.

Parents often put pressure for false settlement and reconciliation.

There is also an issue of dependence of the abused on offending party.

Poverty and a lack of income play a role.

Other than that, there is also a societal fear of shame on those that have been abused, especially by their spouses.

These can be addressed by emphasizing empathy for the abused and doing away with the current culture of blaming the victim.

At a broader level, coordination seems to be the biggest problem.

The ministry dealing with gender affairs has been single-handedly tasked with leading this task. This is a no-brainer.

If we agree that GBV has reached levels of a national crisis, then we need a separate entity to become the contact point and foot soldier.

This entity does not need to be a parastatal. Batswana are fed up with parastatals, not least because they have often become employment bureaus for bureaucrats with no productivity.

We might have to create a GBV Fund, Trust or Foundation.

There is a big risk of allowing GBV to entrench itself into our society without concrete efforts to fight it.

The biggest risk is that fighting it later would be much harder and much more expensive.

The other is that by allowing this to carry on unabated, it breeds dysfunctional families and sires future troubles, because as we know children from an upbringing that has had a culture of GBV often turn towards it later in their adult and married lives.

GBV needs to be fought forcefully – with resources and with the partnership of families and communities. It is a menace.

As a country and people, we clearly have a culture of facing up collectively to such menaces.

Fighting HIV/AIDS is one such example.

We triumphed against HIV/AIDS because leadership rallied every member of society to join hands.

GBV is in the league of HIV/AIDS.

It threatens to drive our normal society into extinction.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper