Monday, October 26, 2020

Parliament trivializes debate on gender-based violence

Parliament spent the entire Friday session last week debating about whether to debate an urgent Gender -based violence (GBV) motion.

Member of Parliament for Mahalapye East Yandani Boko tabled a motion on Friday requesting the House to “urge the President to set up a commission of inquiry on gender-based violence, rape and other sexual offences, as a matter of urgency in terms of the Commissions of Inquiry Act.”

The idea was to have parliament debate the matter there and then, hence the decision to bring the motion as a matter of urgency. Instead, the MPs on both side of the aisle spent the rest of the Friday session debating on whether to engage on the motion as opposed to debating the motion itself.

They rather chose to dwell on Minister of Gender Annah Mokgethi’s proposal that the matter be deferred to a later date.

The Minister had proposed that the matter be discussed at a General Assembly before bringing it back to the floor for debate. 

But the debate then centred on Mokgethi’s suggestion to defer, with the opposition MPs arguing in support of the urgency while their ruling counterparts argued in favour of deferment.

In the end, time elapsed and the Leader of the House Slumber Tsogwane called for adjournment, consequently ruling in favour of deferment.  

MP Boko has tabled the motion on Gender Based Violence citing a study carried out by the World Population Review published this year ranking Botswana as second in the world out of 120 countries on rape incidents (number of incidents per 100,000 people). Botswana has an incidence of 92, 9 incidents of rape per 100,000 people according to the study.  

“The study shows that in the majority of countries that have data available on rape, less than 40% of women who experience sexual violence seek help, and less than 10% seek help from law enforcement,” Boko said.

“Because many women who experience sexual violence rarely report or come forward about their incidents, the exact rates are challenging to report. Despite the challenges, Botswana’s ranking in this study is alarming, disturbing and unacceptable. It is however not surprising. The Government’s own statistics show that the scourge of gender based violence, rape and other sexual offences has reached crisis levels.”

Boko also cited a press release giving an overview of crimes over the festive period with the Botswana Police Service indicating it they had recorded 133 rape cases as compared to 110 cases registered over the same period in the preceding year. 

In February 2020, at a National Pitso ya Borre in Molepolole, organized by Botswana Police Commissioner Keabetswe Makgophe, he revealed that rape cases in 2019 stood at 2,265. This meant there were six rape cases per day.  From March 23rd to April 4, 2020, the police recorded 31 cases of defilement and 22 cases of rape.

Over the President’s Day holidays recently, the Botswana Police Service reported that 17 cases of rape were registered across the country. “Statistics collected by the Police have also shown that every 3 days, a woman is murdered by her intimate partner,” Boko told Parliament.

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