The Leader of the Opposition, Duma Boko, has trashed the idea of “gender-based violence” and challenged ministers ÔÇô or anyone else for that matter, to prove otherwise.
“I am not going to apportion [violence] by gender. There is a lot of violence in this society, and there is a lot of violence because we train children even at school that violence is the way to resolve problems. You tell them, if you spare or you have trained yourself that you must not spare the rod, you spoil the child. So, you beat children up, you encourage your teachers to beat children up, and when they grow up, they beat each other up across gender. Men beat women up, women beat men up, and there is a lot of violence on men from women that is not declared,” he said in parliament.
Boko, who is the MP for Gaborone Bonnington North, argued that there was need to deal with the spectra of violence in a general sense.
“That is what the law does. The Penal Code does not tell us if you beat up a woman or if you beat up a man; it just says violence. Maybe you want to amend the law and start talking specifically about male or female violence, but violence in terms of the law is not gendered. So, let us deal with violence – and there is a lot of it. Let us deal with violence generally. I do not understand your logic and I may have to engage with those who articulate this concept of gender-based violence. Violence is violence,” the MP said.
That is as far as Boko’s reflections on violence went but there is another dark aspect of the issue that needs to be spotlighted. While male-on-women violence is an incontrovertible reality, there is a peculiar subset of women who expect to be beaten up. A 52-year old man tells a decades-old story of an over-the-fence conversation he eavesdropped on between his household’s maid and the one next door during the post-lunch downtime that permits catching up on gossip. In hushed tones, the former was complaining about her boyfriend’s aversion to what can be termed “romantic violence”, saying in Setswana: “Mosimane yo ga a itse joll-ing; motho yo o ka se keng a go betsa le ha e le ga-one.” A few years ago, a female University of Botswana student refused to report her abusive combi-driver boyfriend to the police on the reasoning that “a man who doesn’t beat a woman doesn’t love her.” Women with such romantic standards will typically be attracted to “rough” alpha male types and have been known to provoke them into violent behaviour forty ways to Sunday. Psychiatry diagnoses this condition as masochism which means tendency to derive (especially sexual) pleasure from one’s own pain and humiliation. Often than not the person who plays along with this weird gamesmanship will be a sadist who derives (especially sexual) pleasure from inflicting, pain, suffering and humiliation on others. The greater tragedy is that with no system of disaggregating violence having been developed, masochists are lumped together with genuine victims who take no pleasure in being pained.
The annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence period began last Friday.