Sexual abuse against children in Botswana is both pervasive and dire, and it happens everywhere from their home to their school, a qualitative study by Annals of Global Health has revealed.
The study reveals that sex crimes involving children are a hidden crime which is well known but largerly unacknowledged and orphans are having the worst of it.
According to the study service providers confirmed that sexual violence against children in Botswana is both pervasive and dire. Correlates and consequences associated with sexual violence included, psychosocial problems; depression, decreased confidence; social withdrawal; teenage pregnancy, educational problems; diminished academic performance, school drop-out and propensity for repeat victimization.
The study also listed risk factors for sexual violence, these included; household dysfunction- absence or insufficient parental care, lack of family cohesion; economic limitations ÔÇôpoverty and economic dependence on the perpetrator; socio-cultural rules and expectations.
“Children lack a “voice” in society; they are prohibited from discussing sexual matters, and they lack inadequate support infrastructure,” the study stated.
The study recommended adequate parental care; assertive skills to decline sexual advances, education about gender issues and safe spaces with adult support as possible preventive measures.
Homes were identified as the riskiest places where perpetration occurred with acquaintances and family members as the most likely perpetrators.
Schools were also identified as both safe and risky, with teachers cited as both buffers against and perpetrators of sexual violence.
“Taken together, the culture of silence around sexuality and the social expectation that children should be seen and not heard provokes and perpetuates violence. Neglecting policy and programmatic attention to sexual violence puts Botswana at the risk of being able to sustain its successful HIV management. With large percentage of its population under 18, Botswana must take proactive actions to address sexual violence on children. These risk and protective factors are intended to inform effective prevention and response efforts regarding sexual violence,” the study recommended.
┬áThe study further states that Service providers called for an increased government attention to the issue of sexual violence in the same way HIV/AIDS is being tackled in the country.
The qualitative study employed semi-structured interviews to gain an in-depth understanding of sexual violence on children from service providers in Botswana.
Convenience samples of 23 service providers were recruited from the community-based organization Stepping Stone International and its partners providing service to children and sexual violence victims.