Thursday, May 23, 2024

Violence cuts across age, social status and religion

A recent study conducted by Women’s Council and Gender Links revealed that 67 percent of women in Botswana have, sadly, been used as boxing punching bags at some point in their lives.

But if this is saddening, then the fact that only 1.2 percent of the battered women report this abuse is devastating.

Sunday Standard recently caught up with the Director of Kagisano Society, Lorato Moalusi Sakufiwa, to talk about some of the issues causing this sorry state of affairs and to discuss some of the possible solutions to make this country a safe nation for all.

Sakufiwa started off by painting what might be a hazy picture to most of us. Currently, there are only two women’s shelters in Botswana. A country with a population of 2 million–a small number for business people needing customers but a large number for just two shelters.

Kagisano Center and the only other shelter in this country, in Maun, can house 24 and 16 women, respectively, but they are often times forced to open their compassionate arms to many more women.
The number increases during what Sakufiwa labeled as peak times. These are the holidays, like Christmas, amongst others. When men might have ulterior motives to have the Madam out of the house, so that they could have the freedom to be with their “small houses”.

Sakufiwa said that they receive such a high number of women and most times they turn them away because their problems are not covered by their mandate. The compassionate woman, however, stated that they do sometimes make exceptions when there’s no other way for the women blanketed by this world’s unending problems.

An emerging issue she raised which increased the number of needy women is that of women who become pregnant and are then rejected by the men who impregnated them and then go on to be rejected by their angry and disappointed families.

Another emerging issue is that of women who are treated like lepers because of their disabilities or HIV status or who realize that friends are few when times are dark, when people suddenly turn their back as soon as they realize they have full blown AIDS.

She said that to meet this increased number of the need for shelter, they piloted housing projects in Francistown, Hukuntsi and Bobonong. Had they sustained this, she said, they could have created safe havens for many more women in Botswana. But this project had to come to an end when their sponsorship of 5 years from an American Pharmaceutical company, Bristol Myers Scribd, came to an end.
Another worrying factor is that of an increasing number of youths who have decided to emulate boxers Mike Tyson and Mohammed Ali. Men who cower from facing their match in the boxing ring or at WrestleMania and choose, instead, to beat their women.

“You’ll see a 25-year-old man in a relationship with a 22 year old woman and e le rra difeisi.”
“Violence knows no age. It knows no social status. And it knows no religion. You will have a man who beats up his wife then a minute later the man takes his whole families out to church.”

Sakufiwa encouraged Batswana out there to stand up against this disturbing state of affairs.
She stressed that silence is also violence. People who only talk about another person’s being abused in hushed tones or only when they are gossiping are also perpetrators.

To describe a typical perpetrator, she used a neigbour who might hear a woman screaming at the hands of her husband, and decide to look the other way instead of calling the police.

“It’s an issue we need to address because the abuse of women is on the rise in Botswana. We need to stand up against this. We need to expand. We should be thinking of ways to expand.”
Children are also affected by this.

“When we fight in front of our children, what are they learning? What are we training them to be? What legacy are we leaving behind?”

Though the shelter is for woman, Sakufiwa said that men are also given counseling.
People who are interested in forgetting their own problems for a moment to help others in possibly worse off positions are welcome to become volunteers or even Friends of the Society.

Doctors, Lawyers or Graphic Designers—basically anyone in any field are welcome. If you don’t have any specialized skills do not worry because the society offers training for those interested. You can come to the society, visit their website on www.shelterproject.org.bw or you can even call their number 3907659 if you are interested.

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