FRANCISTOWN: Community leaders have taken a stand to proactively speak against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
With the number of GBV escalating in the country, Mmegi this week spoke to a number of traditional leaders to solicit their views on how they tackle GBV cases in their communities.
Kgosi Shathani Kgakanyane of Sebina village, outrightly condemned GBV, indicating that it was the most prevalent human rights violation in Botswana.
But the leader blamed the escalating GBV cases on women. She argued that in most cases after being violated by their loved ones physically, sexually and emotionally, they would withdraw the matters from the police or Courts of law.
She further said the devastating news was that most GBV victims who withdrew abuse cases for the sake of protecting their loved ones, ended up being brutally murdered.
She encouraged people to report abuse matters and let the law take its course so that the perpetrators can be punished.
Kgakanyane urged women to refrain from staying in toxic relations for the sake of material benefits.
The outspoken chief also waded into drugs and alcohol abuse, which she said in most cases drove people to commit domestic crimes whilst under their influence.
She cried out to the government to assist community leaders with financial support so that they can go an extra mile in mobilising GBV workshops in their villages.
In her bid to fight against GBV, Kgakanyane said that she has established a GBV Club comprising married women from her community.
She said that the club’s mandate was to educate and mentor pupils, both girls and boys, at primary level in combatting the underlying processes that sustained GBV.
She said: “We also teach the same pupils to know how to stand their ground. We want them to grow up understanding the power of saying ‘No’ to abuse and respecting each other”.
Kgosi David Adam of Shashemooke village shared the same sentiments.
He said that GBV was a recipe for disaster and should be given the attention it deserved, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that the cases of GBV were very alarming these days because community leaders cannot host kgotla meetings to caution people on the matter as an intervention.
“Because we are adhering to the COVID-19 health protocols, we are not hosting any kgotla meetings. This generation believes in being addressed on a regular basis in order for them to properly grasp issues concerning GBV,” Adam said.
He also said that GBV was caused by ill-mannered behaviour amongst the youth, which was often influenced by drugs and alcohol abuse.
He stated that most of the youth in the country abused drugs and alcohol and when they were under the influence, they thought they were untouchable and would do whatever they pleased, at times at the cost of other people’s lives.
According to the Shashemooke traditional leader, a lot of youth feared rejection or break-ups in relationships, hence they would take drastic and violent steps as a way of revenging or settling the matters.
He also warned against co-habitation of couples as it also added to the growth in GBV cases.
He encouraged people to refrain from co-habitating but rather get married first, so that they can receive proper guidance and counselling from competent marriage counsellors.
For his part, Jamataka community leader, Kgosi Mosalagae Galebonwe quickly emphasized that women were not the only ones being abused in the country because as a matter of fact men were also at three receiving end.
He said that he has made a personal commitment to fight against GBV in his village.
Galebonwe also lamented that COVID-19 health protocols prevented him from holding kgotla meetings, but said he had taken it upon himself to speak against GBV at every opportunity he gets.
He added that in most instances when boarding public transport, or when given a platform to speak during gatherings like at funerals, he would share with his audiences on GBV.
He said that he has also encouraged a lot of women and men to seek help from pastors, or his office when they faced with any kind of abuse so that they can be assisted accordingly.