It is high time we as Batswana come together and speak against sexual abuse and violence amongst children, said the First Lady Neo Masisi during the launch of Eseng Mo Ngwaneng campaign yesterday.
E Seng Mo Ngwaneng is a national campaign on prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse of children in the country.
Giving her remarks, Masisi said child sexual abuse hits at the core to all the victims and leaves an eternal black spot within the victims. She explained that even if time might fly as years pass by, the scar left by sexual abuse or any form of abuse amongst children does not go away.
She said sexual exploitation and abuse could remain with children for a lifetime and can pass from one generation to the other.
“Study shows that children who have witnessed or being subjected to violence are more likely to become victims or abusers themselves. It becomes like a cycle.
Violence against women and girls is an extreme manifestation of gender inequality and systematic gender based discrimination in society. The right of women and children to live free of violence depends on the protection of their human rights as enshrined in our constitution,” she said.
Masisi explained that in Botswana adolescents represent one fifth or 22% of the total population and are the most vulnerable groups for HIV infection.
She added that there was a coronation amongst sexual exploitation, abuse and HIV prevalence in young girls.
She said adolescents, aged between 15 and 19 had the highest HIV prevalence among girls with 15% compared to boys with only five percent. Young adults between 20 to 24 years old young women also have the highest HIV prevalence compared to their male counterparts.
She said the ‘Youth Risk Behaviour Survey’ undertaken by the Ministry of Basic Education and the Centre for Disease Control, which covered schools also show that one in five
She appealed to men to stop abusing girls. She emphasised that there was a matter of urgency in addressing the root cause of sexual and abuse of children. She added that there was a long term and systematic approach of children’s rights.
For her part, Lone Tshubang, chairperson of the Children’s Consultative Forum said it was important to protect children. She explained that it was crucial for children to grow up under the protection of all the adults in their communities. Tshubang said children raised in poverty were mostly victims of sexual abuse.
“Parents are not monitoring how and who their children speak to on social media.
They shy away from asking how they should protect their children from sexual abuse.
These days everyone is stuck on their phones and there is no time for talking about important things such as sexual abuse. I am not asking for change. I am demanding change. E seng mo go nna,” she said boldly.
The Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Kgotla Autlwetse said child exploitation and abuse is a common occurrence.
He called on Batswana to go back to their roots where a child was raised by all. He said it was upon every citizen to protect children and ensure that perpetrators are put behind bars.