Between January 2014 and November 9th this year there has been 56 ‘Passion Killings’ in Botswana, a statement Assistant Commissioner Christopher Mbulawa urged the media to desist from using because in essence, it trivialises a heinous crime which is murder, probably the worst form of Gender Based Violence.
The whole world will be commemorating the annual 16 days of activism against gender based violence in a matter of weeks and through the THC foundation, members of the media had the harsh reality of Botswana’s standings regarding GBV unveiled to them.
The patron of the THC Foundation Tebogo Masire explained that they are an advocacy group promoting the welfare of victims of GBV; they support the existing support group. Masire went on to cite “patriarchal tendencies” as the core factors undermining women’s rights thus disempowering them and rendering them to be the most vulnerable to GBV, thus a change in mindset could also be a key to fighting GBV.
For this paradigm shift to occur Masire implored the media to be the eyes and ears of the civil society and convey the gory message of GBV to them, citing that it was through the aid of the media India that Rape had been promoted to being considered a serious crime whilst in the past it was relegated to the minor crimes section.
The media however was cautioned to take the sensitivity of GBV into consideration and make sure that the stories written are objective balanced and not scathing to victims involved.
Also according to Masire, alcohol and drug abuse are a major contributing factor to GBV and that their findings show that murders and assaults take place at alcohol selling points or after the victims and perpetrators depart from the selling points.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Office of the President Dr Jeff Ramsay explained that the biggest challenge Batswana are faced with is breaking boundaries by finding out what GBV really is and how it can be tackled. Ramsay indicated that while GBV refers to any form of violence against anyone, (man/woman) the victimisation of women is the primary scourge.
Another issue raised by Ramsay is that some Intimate Partner Violence goes unreported which means that the statistics presented are usually way lower than what actually prevails.
When writing a GBV article, journalists should consider the consumer/ viewer and the subject and what they are trying to communicate; this was stated by the Director of MISA Botswana Buyani Zhongwani who was adamant that the media should provide the relevant platforms since GBV is a matter of National interest.
Zhongwani also highlighted that in as much as Batswana need to change their patriarchal ways, they should also be patient with culture and should start by ‘Grooming from the Grassroots.’ Zhongwani further explained that there is need to get in to contact with the custodians of culture, citing the manner in which the elders advise newlyweds on how to handle marriage. The advice is deemed to be extremely patriarchal and it exploits women.
Social media is also an avenue which needs to be exploited in bridging the generation gaps, Zhongwani stated that the media needs to infiltrate and engage all those concerned with the fight against GBV.
In May last year the gender Affairs Department released the 2012 Gender Based Violence Indicator Study of Botswana which had involved 93 researchers, women and men in two languages, English and Setswana. The sampling of the study was provided by Statistics Botswana and was targeting 1500 households; 750 women, 750 men, but only managed to reach 1457 households.
There were 639 Interviews conducted with women and 590 with men all over the age of 18. The overall response rate was between 84.4% and 85.2% for women and 78.7% for men.
The research was administered using Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) and its main focus was; Intimate and non intimate violence.
The HIV and AIDS Sector Coordinator Matshidiso Thathana gave the findings that, 2 out of 3 of women in Botswana have experienced some form of GBV in their lifetime and that 1 in 9 women report rape to the Police thus the prevalence of GBV in the survey is 24 times higher than that reported to the Police. Of the women raped in the last 12 months, 30.8% attempted suicide, 24% of women who were ever pregnant experienced abuse during pregnancy, 88% of women in the survey experienced child abuse. 66% of men in the survey experienced child abuse while 56% of women and 26% of men in the survey witnessed their mothers being abused, 22.4% of men who perpetrated Intimate Partner Violence 12 months prior to the survey admitted to using alcohol.
At the end of this workshop it was recommended that all relevant stakeholders need to convene and take the necessary action to combat GBV seeing as the numbers were on the rise and efforts made towards curbing it were proving futile.