The fact that in 2012 police statistics revealed that 375 girls under the age of 16 lost their innocence through defilement should shock any caring nation into stern action against gender based violence.
The Charge’d Affaires at the United States of American Embassy to Botswana, Michael Murphy, explained that these figures barely portrayed the grim situation since most of the sordid incidents go unreported because the victims are too afraid to report them.
Murphy said this at the Media launch of ‘The Gender Based Violence Indicator Study Botswana.’
This study is the brain child of the Ministry of Labour and Home Affair’s Department of Women Affairs, Gender Links and the United States of America Embassy.
The Director for the Women Affairs Department, Valencia Mogegeh, put a lot of emphasis on the need for a study of this nature to provide checks and balances for stakeholders to measure the impact of their efforts to curb these social ills.
Mogegeh explained that the study utilized a sample of 1 500 respondents comprised of both men and women and found that 67 percent of the women interviewed were victims of gender violation at some point in their lives.
To substantiate this claim, 44 percent of the men interviewed confessed to have abused their partners.
There are laws in place, such as the Domestic Violence Act and the Children’s Act to protect women and children from gender based violence.
“It takes more than a law to address gender based violence,” said Murphy, adding that there was a need to address “the values and norms that influence attitudes towards gender based violence”, citing that society needs to know that they are protected by the law, where they can go to be aided and rehabilitated should they be violated. Murphy also stated the importance of the role society as a whole can play in this fight by defending victims who do not have the courage to speak out and to provide support.
Mogegeh cited sensitization by the media as a crucial role in the fight against gender based violence; she commended various media houses on the constant reporting of gender based issues and urged them to continue to do so as it was a great deal helpful.
She said that though gender based violence could go either way, statistics show that women and children were more susceptible to be victims and that for women it was a perpetual cycle and there was no age group exempted from this form of abuse.