All must confront gender-based violence

Staff Writer
Yesterday, the United Nations Resident Coordinator Khin Sandi-Lwin asked the participants at the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against gender-based violence to indulge in a mental exercise.

She told participants to picture their loved ones huddled in a corner, cold with fear; lost and vulnerable. She urged them to visualise the family members bruised, battered, scarred physically and mentally. However violence, especially the one based on gender is much more than visions. It is a major problem in modern society. This is regrettable. It is a fact that cases of violence against women and children are rising at an alarming rate in Botswana.

Some young women grow up under unbearable conditions, facing prospects of sexual abuse from people they should get protection from. Some mothers have become complicit in this abuse and have turned a blind eye. Who are these young people supposed to go to for protection and comfort?  This year's theme of 16 Days of Activism Against gender-based violence is 'Commit-Act-Demand: We can end violence against women and children'. Sandi-Lwin said statistics from the Botswana Police indicates that there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of rape in the past 12 months. Two out of three cases of gender based violence take place in the home perpetrated by husbands, intimate partners, fathers and other male relatives. We

are told that the root cause and triggers are the system of patriarchy in our society, tolerance of male infidelity and violence, women's economic dependence on men and alcohol abuse. These are the sobering facts we need to take seriously and not offer excuses for. We therefore would like to urge men to seriously address the issue of gender-based violence.

In recent times the issue of gender based violence has been characterised by arguments and counter-arguments between females and males. Radio talk-shows have been dominated by voices of men indicating that they are victims of gender-based violence. It is a fact that any honest debate about the issue should take into account all aspects and types of gender-based violence. However violence meted out to men does not render violence on women acceptable. There are no 'buts' in this debate. We have a serious problem in our hands and we need to deal with it without muddling the waters and fronting frivolous arguments. All people are born equal with dignity and rights. Therefore all must be given equal respect.

                                                  Today's Thought

                      "Domestic violence and sexual assault go hand in hand."

                                               - Georgia Taylor


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