With alarming reports indicating rising Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Botswana, Mmegi Staffer, BABOKI KAYAWE, uncovers a vicious cycle in which womenâ€™s weaker economic status triggers the abuse that then worsens their standing
Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Botswana is increasingly becoming a monster that competes for resources against noble needs such as health, education and food.
It is hindering developmental prospects for women and instead breeding a cycle of economic dependence on men by women.
According to a 2011 study commissioned by government and non-governmental organisation Gender Links, the prevalence of violence against women stood at 67 percent in Botswana.
This means at least two thirds of women in Botswana were victims of violence in that year and this only relates to reported cases.
The study shows that 62 percent of women sampled experienced abuse within intimate relationships.
Statistics made available this week by the Botswana Police Service paint a deteriorating picture of violence against women in Botswana. According to senior superintendent Dipheko Motube, in the first quarter of 2015 alone, 64 cases of murder and attempted murder were reported as having been committed against women.
This is compared to 261 similar offences in 2014. A total of 142 threats to kill offences were reported during the first quarter of the year, compared to 619 for the whole of 2014, while at least 4,480 common assault cases were reported in the first three months of the year, compared to 16,847 cases for 2014.
“We had 8,145 offences of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in 2014, while in the first quarter on 2015 we have had 2,137 such offences.
Another 138 cases of indecent assault of females were brought to us in 2014, while for the first three months of 2015, we had 46 cases,” Motube said.
The police received 536 rape and attempted rape cases in the first quarter compared to 2,034 in the whole of 2014, while 137 incidents of defilement of girls under 16 years of age were recorded in the first quarter, compared to last year.
“The leading causes of GBV in Botswana are excessive alcohol intake and abuse, cohabitation, juvenile delinquency and dependence on men by women,” Motube explained.
The police have since established GBV focal points in policing centres as a way of combating the vice, Motube said.
According to the 2015 SADC Gender Protocol Barometer country report released earlier this month, though there is a vast and growing body of knowledge on violence against women, the most severe form of violence – the killing of women by their male partners – has received little attention.
“Almost all cases of males killing females occur in the context of an ongoing intimate relationship. Most of the intimate partner violence cases go unreported, as many women cannot afford to put their husbands, the primary breadwinners in prison,” the report reads.
Researchers in the report further say that GBV presents a number of costs ranging from social, time, physical and mental health expenses.
Researchers see the costs borne by the survivors and their families, which more often than not compete with vital expenditure needs of food and education, as equally important.
Therefore, GBV impedes economic development at personal, family, community and macro levels.
“GBV has quantifiable economic costs, although these are not an accurate reflection of the extent since many of the cases go unreported. Research in Africa has shown that response to GBV costs countries significant amounts of money that stakeholders could use for development.”
The monster that is GBV further increases women’s risk of adverse health effects.
Globally, the range and magnitude of violence against women has tremendous negative impact for both individuals and the society as a whole.
These include increased rates of injuries, morbidity, mortality, sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS and health risks associated with unwanted pregnancies, researchers say.
“Exposure to violence against women significantly increases other health risk factors for survivors including increased likelihood of early sexual debut, forced sex, transactional sex and unprotected sex.”