The 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence (GBV) commemoration calls for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. It starts today and will run until the December 10, 2019. This year’s theme is ‘Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape’.
GBV still remains one of the major challenges in our country where women continue to be killed by their intimate partners/spouses or ex-lovers, and the country still continues to record a high number of rape cases. Botswana Police Service commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe during the launch of the 60 Days of Action on Crime and Road Safety held in Tonota recently revealed that rape still remained a concern in ‘our communities’. He said they had recorded 1,700 cases of rape and 600 for defilement since January 2019.
Makgophe while on the matter raised a number of issues, one of which was the fact that some of the defilement incidents are swept under the carpet. This sadly is most of the time the decision of parents of the victims, who for whatever reason may feel that it is important to protect the culprit at the expense of the victim.
Rape is a traumatic experience, which can scar and affect the victim for a very long time. Victims of rape need to be given unlimited support, including counselling, and now if elders make a decision to keep issues of defilement a secret and deal with them as a family, they are basically causing more harm than good. We have heard sad stories of young girls who continue to endure sexual abuse at the hands of male relatives, but the incidents for some reason go unreported.
We need to stand-up as a society and make sure that our children are protected, especially the girl child, who countless studies have revealed that she still remains the most vulnerable.
The act of rape is traumatic to the victim, there is no doubt about that, and in addition to that rape also exposes the girl child to dangers such as HIV and STIs, hence the need for government to review the sentence given to rapists. Rapists deserve stiffer penalties than just the slap on the wrist. Parents who also find out their child has been defiled and choose to make an agreement with the perpetrator at the expense of their child should face the music.
Parents are the ones who are supposed to protect their children. Studies have shown that young girls who grew up in abusive homes are likely to view abuse as normal.
Let’s come together as a society and fight GBV. The government has since promised to come up with a registry of sex offenders, and we have long been waiting for this to take effect.