Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Anna Mokgethi says Gender Based Violence (GBV) continues to plague our country and intimate partner violence has become one of the most challenging socio-cultural issues in contemporary Botswana.
“According to the World Bank (2019), 35% of women have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. At home, the 2018 National Relationship Study revealed that 37% of women and 21% of men reported experiencing some form of violence at home, being either emotional, physical and sexual at least once in their lifetime.”
“The most common form of GBV experienced is emotional intimate partner violence (IPV) at 31% amongst women and seven percent for men. Of the total women who experienced GBV, 92% had experienced some form of abuse in childhood whilst 97% of men who experienced IPV and GBV were abused before they reached 18 years of age,” she said.
She also explained that whilst the country was still grappling with GBV, the advent of COVID-19 pandemic aggravated the situation. Mokgethi pointed out that since the COVID-19 outbreak, 4,996 GBV cases were reported to the police. These included murder, rape, defilement, threat to kill and indecent assault. The minister highlighted that statistics also indicate that for the period January 1, 2021 to February 28, 2021 there were 196 rape cases recorded. She said those statistics were alarming and therefore, require immediate interventions. She added that sexual violence plays a significant role in HIV infection and leads to other health complications such as hypertension and depression.
“Media coverage of GBV is crucial in revealing our societal beliefs and perceptions that can influence socio-political and socio-cultural responses to the challenge of violence against women. In this context, the media plays an important role in informing the public about the challenges of GBV and how it has affected our society as well as providing information relevant to preventing and reducing GBV cases,” Mokgethi explained.
She added that media practitioners play a critical role in not only raising awareness on GBV but also in counteracting myths and out-dated attitudes that may persist on the issue. She said drawing attention to positive stories of empowerment and resilience could assist in illustrating how survivors often act as advocates and agents of change.
Mokgethi added that socio-cultural factors had differential influence on the spread of HIV and the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and men, girls and boys. She said it was on that premise that they were compelled to make a commitment to end violence and devise means to eradicate violence against women and children through practical action as individuals, communities and civil society organisations, including the media.