Everyone has the right to live his or her life freely. But that seems not to be the case for women in Botswana. They live in deepest fear of rapists causing havoc to them as demonstrated by rape statistics. The country is faced with a big social problem of rape as men continue to violate women as they please, Mmegi Staff Writer PINI BOTHOKO observes.
A woman was raped every three hours in the just-ended festive season. As an illustration of the scope of the problem, police recorded 133 rape cases over the festive season, from December 20 to January 5 as compared to 110 cases registered the same period last year.
Over the years, Mogoditshane and Letlhakane villages have been ‘ticking time bombs’ of rapists with the police recording two to three cases every weekend. The Botswana Police Service (BPS)’s Public Relation Officer, Assistant Commissioner Dipheko Motube said majority of the rape cases that were recorded during the festive season were from South-Central District that covers greater Gaborone including Mogoditshane, a rapist paradise with one of its localities given a derogatory demanding phrase of ‘Tsholamosese” (Take- Off-Your-Dress).
Motube said their preliminary investigations established most of the rape cases occurred at different entertainment places. The police have noted with great concern the increase of rape cases, especially that their interventions seem to be falling into deaf ears.
The police have cautioned women of sex drugs alleged to be in high use at most entertainment places in Gaborone and surrounding areas. In the past, it was reported that most women fell victims of sexual assaults after their drinks had been spiked with drugs. On the matter, the coordinator of Women Against Rape, Peggy Ramaphane pleaded with men to respect women, break down gender stereotypes and take part in roles to play towards ending violence against women.
Ramaphane said rape incidents were a serious concern as women continue to experience sexual violence from their intimate partners or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime proven by the cases that the police record on daily basis.
She stated that rape has devastating consequences on victims, that it is a major public health problem and also a violation of women’s human rights.
Ramaphane called on men to respect women and stop violating their dignity.
“It’s sad because the police revealed that majority of women were raped at places of entertainment. Some were attacked when they wanted to go and relive themselves. Do men want to say women should not entertain themselves? Everyone has the right to live their lives freely, do whatever
Ramaphane also said women’s safety in Botswana remained a challenge as they were attacked and got raped while sleeping, walking and even when entertaining themselves. She suggested that systems should join hands in fighting rape, calling on by-law officers to monitor entertainment places, festivals to ensure they provide enough rest rooms for women’s safety.
“I heard that some women were attacked at the back in the dark when trying to relive themselves during music festivals. This shows that someone did not pay much attention to his or her job. The time is now for by-law officers to monitor events at night, make sure they have provided enough requirements for the safety of their customers,” she said. Furthermore, Ramaphane challenged Dikgosi to step in, address men at kgotla meetings to plead with them to respect women and their rights to freedom, stating that their voices have been inaudible in addressing the rape scourge as community leaders.
In another development, Letlhakane police station commander, Michael Maphephu said even though this festive season was relatively quite, his policing area shocked him by recording three rape cases. It has been a crisis over the years, he said. He said most of the rape incidents occur at drinking spots like shebeens or walking home from those entertainment places.
Maphephu revealed that majority of the cases in his jurisdiction occur at drinking spots at cattle posts in the outskirts of Letlhakane. THe said they also realised the perpetrators were mostly being herdsmen.
“It looks like these perpetrators are not well informed about rape, the respect for women and their rights, hence we resolved to hold rape campaigns targeting the cattle posts and highly-populated remote areas. Men should be taught to respect women and know that when women say no they mean it,” Maphephu said
He added that usually known individuals rape women, these are the people they would have spent time with or their ex-boyfriends.