Monday, December 6, 2021

The ‘five men – one woman’ GBV Ministerial Committee comes alive

The Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Response Inter-Ministerial Committee held its first meeting recently officially launched by Vice President Slumber Tsogwane.

The committee, which is made up of six ministers, with the Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Annah Mokgethi being the sole lady, represents the fulfilment of Government’s commitment to take firm, decisive and swift action to eradicate GBV in Botswana.

The closing Parliament session in 2020 saw the august house pass a GBV proposal, following Yandani Boko’s motion of a GBV Commission of Inquiry. Instead of a commission, an Inter-Ministerial Committee was established to guide and direct Botswana’s GBV response.

The committee resembles Botswana’s response plan on ending GBV, was launched by Vice-President Slumber Tsogwane in a virtual meeting this Monday. Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Anna Mokgethi chaired the meeting.

Giving the global overview of the GBV situation in Botswana, Permanent Secretary to Mokgethi, Dr Temba Mmusi said GBV is a global pandemic that affects one in three women. Mmusi added that a World Bank 2019 study revealed that 35% of women have experienced either physical or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. He further mentioned that 7% of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner and as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.

The National Relationship Study uncovered irking trends in Botswana’s occurrences of GBV. For her remarks in the inaugural meeting, Mokgethi, who is the committee’s chairwoman said: “The 2018 Botswana National Relationship Study revealed that 37% of women and 21% of men reported experiencing some form of GBV be it emotional, physical and sexual at least once in their lifetime with the most common form of GBV experienced being emotional intimate partner violence at 31% women and seven percent for men.”

With COVID-19 ravaging the world, an age of the “new normal” has ushered people to wear masks, keep social distancing and seemingly incited violence against women and girls. In the virtual meeting, Dr Mmusi said: “Since the COVID-19 pandemic in Botswana, a total of 4 996 GBV cases were reported.” These include murder, rape, defilement, threat to kill and indecent assault. “1 823 cases were taken before courts and 3 173 cases are pending for various reasons,” Mmusi expanded. Reasons for the apathy-inducing number of pending cases were that investigations are still underway, and some suspects are still at large.  

Despite its launch, the committee has been drenching in criticism on why men outnumber women. In a parliament session, Member of Parliament (MP) Goretetse Kekgonegile asked the minister of defence, justice and security, also Gabane – Mankgodi MP Kagiso Mmusi why there aren’t more women than men in the committee? “You talked about the gender ministerial committee, we saw its launch by the Vice President, however, it has five men and one woman,” Kekgonegile observed.

“Question is, why are there more men in the committee than women when women are the victims?,” inquired Kekgonegile, who believes that this imbalance may impede the committee’s functionality. Mmusi responded in averment to Maun MP’s observation but said the imbalance is made up for in the sub-committee. “The inter-ministerial committee has five men and one woman as you say, but the sub-committee has a lot of women including NGOs,” Mmusi answered.

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