With the traditional amphitheatres amongst the country’s selected vaccination sites, women and men are being blocked from getting their jabs if their dress codes fail to conform with tradition.
Sex worker-led organisation, Sisonke Botswana has said it is a non-starter that diKgosi are against the vaccination of women clad in pants.
Programs officer at Sisonke Botswana Mandla Pule told The Telegraph that they believe it is negligent on the part of diKgosi to bar women from being vaccinated if they come wearing pants.
“Women dressed in pants should be vaccinated due to the fact that we are dealing with a pandemic that is a public health threat. We are not saying people should violate their traditions and cultural values, but right now we are in a state of emergency,” Pule said.
He added that under the state the country is in, it has been said that some practices have to be suspended. “We will have to give away some of our privileges, and culture is one of them. Cultural practices are privileges, so if it means suspending some of those things for the sole purpose of vaccinating people, then so be it. What we want is for people to be healthy,” the programs officer said.
Pule stated that the Covid-19 has no regard for what one is wearing, and the main issue is to prevent the spread of the virus by vaccination. By ensuring this equitable access to vaccines at some of the country’s vaccination sites, Pule said it upholds access to health and human rights because Batswana have a right to life and the right to health.
Figures such as Kgosi Malope Gaseitsewe ll of Bangwaketse, and Bakgatla regent, Kgosi Bana Sekai have sternly spoken against the relaxing of traditions to accommodate vaccination.
Kgosi Sekai has said that a Kgotla, just like any other place has its own traditions and they cannot be expected to dishonour them just because people want to vaccinate.
The traditional leaders have advised communities to always observe the kgotla decorum and dress code.
The Sisonke Botswana organization is a sex worker-led organisation that comprises over 1 500 individual members (male, female, transgender and immigrant sex workers) across the country. The organization implements activities that provide an enabling and supportive environment for young and adult sex workers aged 18- 45 years old to practice safer sex, protect and claim their rights in five districts.