A growing trend could easily be obscure looking shoes, clothes or food but Batswana seem to have different ideas on trends considering the current one which involves gruesomely killing and raping women across all generations. One cannot swing a cat in this country without hitting a woman, girl or child who is being violated physically, sexually or otherwise.
There are laws and policies from The Cape to Cairo which have been put in place to curb such grotesque incidents that claim innocent lives but when statistics from the Botswana Police indicates that 44 women are raped on a weekly basis in a population of a little over 2 million people it is an indication that something is very wrong.
In any community there are those who watch things happen, make things happen and those who sit and wonder what the heck is going on. When girls as young as three and old women in their 60s are at the mercy of murderers and rapists, pressure groups like the men and women from different organizations across the country such as #IShallnotForget movement stand up to advocate for the rights of those constantly violated.
Coordinator of the movement Poloko Mongatane says their current theme is ‘Making Botswana Safe Again’ and have taken the war against these crimes not only to social media but the streets as well as Parliament. Mongatane says they made an appeal to leadership right from the Presidency to condemn incidents of violence against women. She says members of the movement reached out to legislators individually on social media and were astonished at some of the responses from some sitting members of parliament who were said to be hostile towards the advances of the activists and resorted to going as far as blocking them.
This reception did not deter the movement, they persevered till they got a message from the Office President vowing to be a part of the fight. With the numbers of violence against women still on the rise the team has committed to demand a strong message from all political leaders, community leaders and traditional leaders condemning Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Violence Against Women (VAW) throughout all platforms as well as a firm resolution and commitment that GBV and VAW will not be tolerated. There is also a commitment to developing, establishing and implementing a comprehensive and multi-stakeholder’s plan of action to address and end GBV and VAW as well as an active review of existingplans.
Convening and appointment of a review/oversight committee to monitor and evaluate the implementation of these actions, comprising of various stakeholders, with authority to challenge any failures .The development of nationwide awareness raising campaigns, trainings and education programs aimed at preventing GBV/VAW and changing attitudes, sponsored and led by government.
The review and enactment of laws on combating GBV/VAW such as recognition of marital rape, consistent sentencing, stiffer penalties for repeat offenders as well as a clear and comprehensive policy framework for protection. Training of and sensitization of all relevant government officers including police, nurses, teachers and judicial officers in order to understand GBV/VAW and its effects and to eliminate the use of harmful gender stereotypes that legitimize negative attitudes towards victims and survivors. Provision of psychosocial support for victims and survivors inclusive of government sponsored/supported shelters and interim housing to enable women to escape abusive relationships.
Provision of legal service for victims to hold state accountable for failing to protect women and for failing in their due diligence obligations. To develop a sexual and violent offender’s registry.
And the ratification and domestication of the Maputo protocol and other international and regional instruments geared towards the protection of women from discrimination and violence.”
All that being done there still remains the white elephant in the room that is socialization, it is evident that there is a dire need for a paradigm shift which will shed stereotypes perpetuating gender based violence. According to Gender-Links Country Manager, Gomolemo Rasesigo, there is need to stop using culture as an excuse but rather socialize children to respect each other from a young age. “They need to appreciate each other’s rights.” Rasesigo further stated that they are calling on leaders to speak against abuse in their public meetings and other forums. They should work with stakeholders and join efforts to end GBV and advocate for strengthened implementation of legislation.