The use and abuse of women in Botswana took a gruesome turn when the dawn of a new week, month and season came with the discovery of a body of a young woman who had had her head severed off. Not a scene from the fictitious television drama Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) but a grotesque reality that happened Tlokweng (Just outside Gaborone).
The ink had hardly dried on the newspaper gory headlines when police reported that they were
investigating an incident in which a 22 year old Mmathethe woman had been raped over the weekend.
Two days later, Mahalapye police also unearthed the body of a 27 year old woman. The Mahalapye Station Commander, Isaac Mamadi indicated in a brief that, “The deceased died from severe stab wounds after being stabbed several times with a sharp instrument.”
A bit further up North in a village called Matsiloge, the police reported that the body of a 31 year old woman had been found by her partner in a pool of blood and she too was stabbed with a sharp object on her neck.
All of this in a period of less than week, and these are the ones that actually get reported and get reported on. These indicate a flagrant disregard for the safety of women across the country as in most cases they are violated by their intimate partners, friends and family members.
Whilst no one knows how they will meet their maker, there are indicators that show women who stay in abusive relationship often lose their lives at the hands of their partners. A report published in March 2018 by the Australian Domestic and family Violence Death Review Network found that almost half of these killings occur within 3 months of the ending of the relationship. The reports further states that women in abusive relationships attempt to leave between five and seven times before successfully doing so and it is at this point that they are most vulnerable and in danger of being murdered.
According to Gender Links Country Manager Gomolemo Rasesigo, statistics across the globe suggest that at least one third of women have experienced some sort of abuse and the 2012 Gender Based Violence Indicator Study shows that two out of three women experience abuse in Botswana. Rasesigo further stated that reports coming to them from the police indicate that at least 44 rape cases are reported on a weekly basis. “In recent times Botswana has experienced a wave of Gender \based Violence across the country and the people on the receiving end are mostly women,” said Rasesigo.
In their statement, Gender links states that most of the abuses happen between intimate partners for various reasons including but not limited to infidelity, substance abuse and inferiority complexes. Socio economic factors like poverty and the fear of stigmatization are the leading reasons as to why most cases of abuse go unreported and thus Genderlinks suggests that the Civil Society alongside the private sector and government must work together to find lasting solutions to this social ill.