It’s the first few days of 2019. There is a youth uprising against rape and indecent assault. Young women are tired of staying silent while their bodies are abused while life goes on. In fact, maybe tired isn’t the right word for it.
I am uncertain if the words to describe how young women are feeling have been conceived.
This year, is unlike the previous. 2018, in the rearview looks a little like practice for this year. This year, metaphoric guns are blazing and women are placing themselves in the line of fire; for ourselves, each other and those who are to come after us. This is the fourth wave of feminism in Botswana, in full view.
This follows a tell-all tweet by a young girl who in the spirit of naming and shaming, who also spoke explicitly about the violence and injustice she believes herself to have suffered at the hands of a man who it seems raped her.
The defence system, other young women, following in her leadership and example, are sharing the sordid details of similar ordeals they suffered at the hands of, mostly public figures, or at least popular guys. These clearly powerful bold warriors of young women are making efforts at publicly reclaiming their dignity from a culture that traditionally conditions women to generally be more vigilant in avoiding rape and indecent assaults. More importantly though, they are clearly cautioning that survivors should not have the responsibility of avoiding.
They are doing so the only way they see best, which is through social media posting. They have found this to be the safest space in a world so adamant in proving that rape is often if not more often the survivor’s fault.
They are doing this despite apologist posts that suggest that women are raped as a result of living lives they cannot afford, and trusting friends or companions for support, and comments defending these posts, suggesting that women need cautioning more than rapists need convictions.
Yes, perhaps the social media portals are not safe. This was proven by the supposed various arrests of some of the young women who took to the timelines, for naming and implicating social high profilers, in efforts to at least find closure for incidents that took place years ago.
The harrowing truth is this: the system appears to be protecting the perpetrators over the survivors. This reinforces the belief that rape survivors are not safe anywhere! This almost directly contradicts His Excellency the President’s representation made, on his Facebook page, where he seeks “to affirm that his
It would appear, in fact that some law enforcers have favourably protected alleged perpetrators, solely on the basis of their word, without any investigations. It is said that accused rapists who were named for purposes of shaming them for the crimes they have committed, have very quickly run to the Botswana Police Service at various stations, and insisted that they be protected from survivors and their allies, who refuse to stand by and watch helplessly.
In fact, it is said that a representative from the highest police service office made statements on the national television station, cautioning victims against criminal defamation, of persons, coincidentally, on an evening following the arrests and interrogations of young women.
It is becoming apparent that the various complaints made by survivors of rape, who had the courage to report, that the treatment by police officers leaves a lot to be desired, to say the least, is probably nearer to the truth than the adverse.
Our police service seems detached from the fact that we live in an age where we communicate things differently. The fourth wave of feminism coincides with, and is identified by the use of digital world. In fact, this wave is referred to as the Digital Movement for that reason. For this reason, feminism has taken on a whole new shape. Like many things, it is dynamic and changes as time passes.
This has fortunately meant that there is space for the various feminists. There are those who are of the views that there is need for a total overhaul of the legal system and social system of patriarchy, which has used men as tools to ensure it’s subsistence.
There are others, who are of the view that the change may come in other ways. And then there are many others, shaped by various facets, experiences, lifestyles, structures and other things. In Botswana, right now many of us, are meeting on our timelines to call out the wrongs, and hold each other and everyone else accountable. Sometimes, this has meant we have offended. But such is the nature of a revolution. There is little space for apology.