Thursday, May 23, 2024

Wave of rape cases has Batswana women’s knickers in a twist

By Ruth Kedikilwe

With just 13 days into the New Year the heat is already up and it is not just the temperature.

The rate at which women are being sexually violated in this country is astounding with very little retribution from the law enforcers.

During a small period of two weeks between Christmas and New Year the Botswana Police Services issued a statement that a total of 109 rape cases had been reported, 109 women had been raped… Let’s just let that sink in.

This brings about the million dollar question of why do men rape? The reasons are numerous and unquantifiable.  Consider the different situations that rape occurs, a 3-year-old toddler at home, an 80-year old granny at the cattle post, a 15-year old school girl making her way home from school a 25-year old lady after a night out, a daughter by her father, uncle or grandfather.

Any situation in which a man and a woman are in each other’s presence rape can occur.

Social media has been abuzz all week after a 21-year old young lady decided to wear her heart on her sleeve and went public with details of her ordeal where she was raped and drugged.

This ignited a huge public spat, a total battle of the genders regarding women who frequent places of alcohol consumption.

In the same breath the actions of this young lady to go public about her experience prompted hordes of other girls to also expose the acts of sexual violence against them from public figures, celebrities, socialites, politicians and family members.

It is considered chivalry when a gentleman offers a lady a drink of their choice at a social gathering, the story now changes when the drink being offered is a means of paying for sexual intercourse at a later stage during the night.

A lot of people were labeled rapists apologists for pointing out that ladies should go out partying with enough money to sustain them so as to avoid the trap of having men buy them drinks and expecting intercourse from them thereafter.

A divergent view called bull shit on these assertions citing that no amount of alcohol for a lady justifies sex without consent. 

Human rights activist and lawyer Uyapo Ndadi boldly stated that, “We live in a world where trusting people is difficult, including close relatives and employers, as sex predators are everywhere. I do not want to sound like I blame the victims but I call on everyone to try and avoid situations that compromise, some people are quick to take advantage. For example, if you are to go out, make sure you can afford your fun, make sure strangers do not have access to your drinks, have solid arrangements of how to get home, and don’t visit strangers at their homes, particularly alone.”

After an intense back and forth between him and many activists via social media Ndadi further stated that, “Rights do not protect you when you are in a place of danger, actions may. But rights would entitle you to some form of recourse after you have been violated, but then again, the system and the evidence may fail you.”

What do the professionals say? Psychologist Hans Eysenck in a the blog ‘Psychology Today’ is cited to have attributed rape to the objectification of women, “turning them into body parts that exist and have value only to the extent they satisfy male desires and move merchandize in the marketplace” Eysenck further states that society fails to solve the ‘Rape Problem’ because it has tuned in to a battle of the sexes, men vs women whereas it should be approached as  as a contest between violent objectification collaborators vs. resistors. 

In this way the efforts to end the objectification of women and violence against them benefit from a more comprehensive social conversation about violence and objectification.

After all this bantering dies down and the chickens come to roost Batswana will still be faced with the enormous challenge of sexual violence against women. As long as people continue to justify condone and protect sex offenders women will never be safe in Botswana. As long as victims are met with harsh                       confrontations like”What where you wearing? Were you sober?” the rape cases will go unreported.


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