The 16 days of activism against violence on women and children campaign is nearing the end as the 10th of December approaches.
In Botswana alone, the hype surrounding the campaign has been massive, what with the events and countless discussions held countrywide by a number of different local NGOs and the Department of Women’s Affairs and other institutions.
The media has also played a hand in advertising the campaign to the people and covering almost every event that addresses the issues of violence that are carried out amongst our women and children.
Some if not most of us, have a relative, a friend, or know someone who has/is being abused. Whether it’s by the boyfriend, husband, or even the parent.
Most of us, however, have been wondering what the hype was about, and what was expected of us?
Are you one of the people who sit, watch and wonder what the campaigners hope to achieve at the end of it all? What have you done to ensure that your mother, sister and daughter are safe from discrimination and not having their rights violated?
The other day, a man friend told me that he doesn’t believe that in this day and age women are still being abused. He said women like to cry foul over the silliest things like emotional abuse, he didn’t believe that a man can rape his own wife or child. He said it doesn’t happen in Botswana.
The shocking truth is a woman or child is abused almost every day in Botswana alone, especially in rural areas. Even within religious families, who twist Bible teachings to suit their beliefs that women are men’s objects and they could be treated as men wished.
Children and their mothers are beaten senselessly.
As intense as the campaign is, are the right people listening? Are they likely to change their behavior because of a campaign?
I personally believe our societies and their institutions are responsible for the continuing abuse on women and children. Misinterpreted ideas are placed within the minds of individuals in the form of religious quotes by those who don’t understand the full implications of the verses at hand. There are those out there who have vowed to follow their religion to the letter even if it meant abuse or, even worse, murder.
“The drum, the village fool, the shuras (lower classes) animals, women, all these are fit to be beaten.” Tulsidas, Ramayana, Hindu religion.
“Men have authority over women because Allah has made one superior to the other. Good women are obedient. They guard the unseen parts because Allah has guarded them. As for those of you who fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to bed apart and beat them”-the Koran.
It is statements like this that are dangerous to the security of our women if read at face value. It pains to see that there are people out there who are still gullible and would do just about anything for their alleged beliefs even if it meant causing pain and sorrow.
I share with the readers some of the stories of violence that women have been exposed to.
Let’s not let it be a campaign that we carry out only for those 16 days. Let’s protect our women and children from harm everyday of our lives.
The stories were compiled from a book called,” The “I” stories, Volume 4. The book speaks out on gender violence in southern Africa.
Ncamie Mthombeni was 4 when his father killed his mother in the presence of him and his three siblings. They used to watch their father as he on countless occasions beat up their poor mother who continued to stay with him. Surprisingly, the father neither drank nor smoked and would sometimes go to church.
“I used to see him beat my mother, I didn’t know that he would end up killing her like a goat, but it happened one day, the day I will never forget. He killed her with a knife and she died on the spot in front of my eyes. He chucked me outside so that I could not see mother bleeding and groaning like a cow,” said Mthombeni.
RAPE AND CHILD ABUSE
Natasha Kangele from Malawi went to South Africa when she was ten years old and ended up having to stay with her aunt due to family problems. Her aunt hated her.
“One of the horrible days of my life happened the day I lost my womanhood, in a way that I did not expect. I was raped when I was 12 years old. We were living with another woman named Anne.
Anne sent me to the shops to buy something. When I was returning, a man followed me. He said that I should follow him or else he would kill me. I felt a gun on my back, so I had no choice. He took me to his place in Berea. There he raped me. When he had what he wanted, by God’s grace he took me home and threatened me. I told Anne what happened in the morning; she suggested that we wait for my aunt to tell her what happened. When my aunt saw me she said that I was not raped. She said that my boyfriend did this. She told everyone that I was lying. Everyone believed her.”
Ntombie Kuhlase from Swaziland is a survivor of sexual abuse. She wrote about her ordeal.
“I am a victim of rape. My biological father raped me for seven years. It all started when I was doing standard three in 1995. I was ten years old and staying with both my parents. My mother was a naturally short tempered person so I was very scared of her. Each time I was in trouble with my mother, my father would stop her from beating me but I had to pay for it later when my mother was away at work. She would work four-day shifts, be off two days and then four nights shifts.
He started by telling me to share their bed with him, when mom was on night shifts. I remember the first day; he started by telling me nice things. He told me many stories until I fell asleep. In the middle of the night he forced himself into me. It was very painful. I cried and he said that if I said anything to my mom, he would kill me.”