FRANCISTOWN: Former Tatitown Customary Court president Margaret Mosojane says cultural beliefs and norms fuel Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Mosojane said so recently when addressing a GBV workshop organised by the Francistown City Council (FCC).
She said this form of violence is not a new phenomenon adding that some people believe it is new because many people nowadays are aware of human rights and cases are reported in various media platforms.
As a result Mosojane stated that GBV is an increasing and painful issue that needs a holistic approach to address it.
“I am sure that you may be aware that interpersonal relationships have always been guided by gender issues. In the olden days men were automatically assigned certain roles whilst women were kept in their restricted roles. Hence women did not enjoy the right to education like their male counterparts,” she said.
She added that patriarchy perpetuated a system whereby women were denied the right to education, vote and to earn the same salaries for equal work as males.
Mosojane indicated that society is emerging from a social background where gender inequality was institutionalised at various levels such as family and at work.
“I would like us to go back to the Montreal massacre where a young man was angered by the fact that some women had decided to register to study engineering whereupon he gunned 18 of them down. In his limited understanding, he wondered how women could study courses which were formerly a domain of men,” said Mosojane.
She added that the young man could have felt insulted, belittled or deeply provoked hence he shot the women to death.
The former customary court president said although the situation has now improved, some members of society still feel that men are more superior than women.
Mosojane stated that although there has been a tremendous shift in attitude concerning the role that they should play as individuals, there remain small pockets of stereotypes that give rise to conflicts, anger and exploitation.
She indicated that some of the causes of GBV include cohabitation, which sometimes lead to financial exploitation, physical and emotional abuse and children’s acts.
She further stated
Mosojane said although the country has laws that should act as a vanguard for children’s rights, there are some loopholes affecting children such as inheritance rights, visitation rights and infidelity, which also fuel GBV.
Mosojane called on all those who experience GBV to feel free to voice out their concerns although she acknowledged that there is stigma of shame attached to people who publicly speak out about the issue.
She added that some of the reasons people do not speak out now are due to guilt, poverty, fear of influential people, and denial due to the so-called ‘it happens to everybody syndrome’.
Sergeant Gracious Amos from the Francistown Police Station told the gathering that cases of GBV in her policing area have been increasing over the years.
She said last year they recorded over 16 cases of assault; 18 cases of rape and 11 cases of defilement in their policing area, and 32 cases of failure to comply with court orders as compared to the previous year.
However, Amos was happy that they have not registered any cases regarding incest and murder due to GBV over the past two years.
She complained about some women who come forward to report GBV saying that the majority of them make it harder for the police to enforce the law.
She said such women report GBV cases only to make a U-turn because they are sympathetic to the accused.
Even more worrisome, Amos said, is that in cases of defilement, most of the children do not complain and even go to an extent of denying that they were sexually abused.
She said such children indicate that it was out of their own volition to have sexual relations with older men adding that they even lie about their ages telling their suitors that they are above 18.
Amos urged parents to look after their children and notice any behavioural change so that they can be assisted well in time.