Prior to the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence (GBV), which runs from today (November 25) to December 10, the United States of America Embassy has decided to intensify its engagement in this year’s activates and tasks.
In its effort to support the 16 days of Activism Against GBV, the US Embassy is partnering with the government and civil organizations in this work of activism.
Briefing members of the media on Wednesday, US Ambassador, Michelle D. Gavin, said gender based violence is a big problem that cannot be addressed by silence. She said it is in this way that the US Embassy this year is joining in fighting gender based violence.
“Today in Botswana, the frequency with which women are beaten and raped, and the frequency with which children are brutilised or exploited should shock us, and should shake us into action,” said Gavin.
She also said, according to statistics, 50 percent of women who experience gender based violence are more likely to be infected by HIV than women in non-violent relationship, adding that with the staggering 2010 police report, there were 518 cases of defilement, 1,865 cases of rape and 1,166 threats to kill cases.
Gavin, however, raised concern that she doubts that the police are telling the whole story because often these crimes go unreported.
“I say this again, this should shock us and it should take us into action. In addressing this challenge, the US embassy is committed to stand as a strong partner with people and the government of Botswana,” emphasized Gavin.
The other partners of the US Embassy in this GBV combat were the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), Gender Links, Stepping Stones and Young Women Christian Association (YWCA).
From the BDF, Brigadier Mabe Gaborone explained how the BDF, which was once a male dominated institution, has now accepted women. He said it is now four years since women were admitted among the ranks.
Gaborone said this also helps them to understand women more as accumulating women officers gives them a chance to work well with them. He said they are in this partnership together with the US Embassy to ensure that there is never a place for violence against women and children.
Among various activities, which are put on schedule starting from today’s activities by the US Embassy and their partners, is Extensive media campaign highlighting the issue of GBV throughout these 16 days of activism.
A two-year course of training of the Police in investigating and prosecuting GBV cases by the US Embassy is also being extended.
Stepping stones will engage in training people in drama and arts for self expression and inner healing. The YWCA will offer a range of consultation and work on curbing negative masculinity among men.
There will also be media training in coverage of issues of GBV by Gender Links. The soldiers from the BDF are helping with all activities at the commemoration event at Goodhope.