Approximately 1 in every 24 women in Botswana (67 percent) have experienced some form of gender violence in their lifetime, including partner and non-partner violence.
A smaller, but still high, proportion of men admit to perpetrating violence against women, according to a press release from the Ministry of Labour and Home affairs.
These are among the key findings of the Gender Based Violence (GBV) Indicators Research project in Botswana undertaken by the Women’s Affairs Department (WAD) and Gender Links. These findings, which are significantly higher than those reported in a study using similar methods in South Africa’s metropolitan Gauteng province, show that GBV has reached pandemic proportions and needs to be treated with the same urgency as HIV and AIDS.
Other findings include that nearly one third of women experienced Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in the 12 months to the prevalence survey that formed the flagship research tool in this study.
In contrast, only 1.2 percent of Batswana women reported cases of GBV to the police in the same period. The prevalence of GBV reported in the survey is 24 times higher than that reported to the police. The levels of GBV are far higher than those recorded in official statistics and that women have lost faith in the very system that should protect them as well as offer redress.
Most of the violence reported occurs within intimate relationships. About 3 in every 5 women experienced violence in an intimate relationship, while about half of the men admitted to perpetrating intimate partner violence.
About 30 percent of women experienced IPV while 22.4 percent of men perpetrated GBV in the 12 months before the survey. Emotional partner violence is the most common form of IPV experienced by women (45 percent) and perpetrated by men (37 percent) in their lifetime.
Similar proportions of women (11.4 percent) and men (10.7 percent) reported experiencing or perpetrating non-partner rape, respectively. Despite the high levels of rape, only 1 in 9 women report rape to the police and only 1 in 7 seek medical attention. Patriarchal attitudes are a significant underlying factor driving the incidence of GBV in Botswana.
A representative sample of 639 women and 590 men across Botswana completed questionnaires in their preferred local language on behaviour and experiences related to GBV. Researchers asked women about their experiences of violence perpetrated by men while men were asked about their perpetration of violence against women.
In his foreword to the research report, Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Edwin Batshu, said, “The report is unique in its multi sector and multi dimension approach. The attitude part of the survey shows that GBV in Botswana is deeply rooted in patriarchal ideologies that at best ignore and at worst condone violence against women. The media monitoring and political content analysis show that we as leaders have not been making our voices heard strongly enough on this national scourge; the most serious violation of human rights in the country at the present time, and the biggest threat to our achievement of Vision 2016. We can do better than that! We must make it known, from every platform, pulpit, and kgotla, that we as leaders of Botswana say no to gender violence!”