FRANCISTOWN: The recent incident of a young woman being catcalled and stripped at the Gaborone Bus Rank on Sunday has been strongly condemned by the Botswana Bus, Truck and Taxi Association (BBTTA).
The vile incident captured on video has gone viral on various social media platforms and gained the attention of the press, showing the woman being verbally abused and forcibly undressed by a group of crazed men with onlookers spurring them on.
The chairperson of BBTTA in Francistown, Tymon Matebesi, did not mince any words when he condemned the actions of the “wicked people” who find joy in openly humiliating others in one of the cruelest forms of public abuse.
Matebesi, a staunch member of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) who has the church’s badge emblazoned on his shirt, said the brutal attack has great potential to soil the name of bus conductors, loaders and taxi drivers, especially the latter who are already in bad books with some members of the public.
Although Matebesi admitted that there are a few taxi drivers who have brought the whole name of their industry into disrepute, it is a wrong perception for some members of the public to paint them with the same brush.
Matebesi pleaded with the public to understand that the bus rank is a meeting place for many people on various missions and as such, it is sometimes unfair to pinpoint members of their association as instigators of unsavoury things that happen at the terminus.
“It is a fact that some hawkers and members of the public also take part in some of these bad incidents that happen within the bus rank. But taxi drivers will be singled out as instigators of those things because the public already has a bad perception of them,” Matebesi said.
In Matebesi’s view, the blame lies on the doorstep of people who in the last few years were given the Public Service Vehicle Permit (PSVP) by Government in a bid to reduce unemployment and poverty.
He acknowledged that similar incidents that happened in Gaborone have occurred in Francistown in the past.
He said those people were given PSVs without having undergone any form of training like in the past when it was a requirement for all bus and taxi drivers. He said that it is hence not a surprise that such behaviour leaves much to be desired.
“They simply don’t know what is expected of them because they never underwent any form of training. This is a recipe for disaster, but we will try to help them where we can so that they can meet the expectations of their duties and the public,” Matebesi said.
He added that to prevent incidents like this from happening in future, there is an urgent need to call for all stakeholders, including members of the public to play their part.
He said as a result, they would in due course hold meetings
Former Tatitown customary court president, Margaret Ludo Mosojane also condemned the incident.
She said that it is disgraceful behaviour shown by the mob and a violation of personal rights, which is unacceptable and punishable by the law.
She added that the immoral act has destroyed the young woman’s integrity and would therefore impact negatively on her life in the future.
“She may feel worthless. Some members of the public will undermine her. She may feel intimidated to express herself.” We are all different and everyone is entitled to wear whatever they want. No one has the authority to judge the way other people dress,” she said.
She added that almost everyday women are judged by the society by the way they dress, but surprisingly it is not so for men.
She said in her life and history, she had never heard of a man who was stripped naked in public because he was perceived to be inappropriately dressed.
Mosojane said these kinds of attacks are influenced by negative stereotypes that still hold women as objects of their male counterparts hence the abuse continues to happen.
“The Gaborone incident had the potential of causing chaos at the bus rank between the young woman’s sympathisers and her assailants, which will obviously disturb the peace of other people in the vicinity,” Mosojane said.
Mosojane’s vitriol follows the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS’ (BONELA) press release and other Batswana who strongly condemned the incident.
In a 2014 study entitled, ‘A socio-legal analysis of the harassment of women by bus rank or taxi rank marshals on the basis of their dress in Harare, Zimbabwe’, was carried out to find out why some men strip women at the bus rank.
The study was carried out at the University of Zimbabwe and it was concluded, “harassment of women by rank marshals is a reflection of how our society is structured”.
The study just like what obtains in Botswana found out that these kinds of incidents happen because our society is patriarchal and dominated by men.
According to the study, men have a commanding influence over women in the domestic arena, which transcends to the public realm making men think that they are entitled to control any woman.
“From this study, it was evident that harassment of women on the basis of their dress is all about exercising power and control over women’s sexuality.”