GBV, rape hurt Botswana's reputation, potential

FRANCISTOWN: The First Lady Neo Masisi has said the growing cases of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), as well as rape, are hurting Botswana’s reputation and need to be urgently dealt with.

The First Lady was speaking on Monday during the launch of the 16 Days of Activism against Violence on Women and Children. The campaign is themed ‘Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape’.  

Masisi said that a 2018 study conducted countrywide indicated that 37% and 21% of women as well as men respectively, have reported to have experienced some form of GBV (in 2018). 

Masisi also said as a result of GBV a majority of victims who are mostly women and girls suffer from consequences such as forced and unwanted pregnancies as well getting sexually transmitted infections among them HIV/AIDS. 

She added: “Prevention of GBV should therefore focus on strongly empowering women and men to stand against such abuse”. 

She implored legislators to come up with tougher laws and policies that will ensure that rape and GBV cases are effectively dealt with.  

Masisi also pleaded with other key stakeholders such as teachers, parents and media practitioners to educate children about all critical factors related to GBV and rape. 

In addition, she said that it is very worrying that despite being a relatively small country Botswana is the second country in the world with the highest rape cases per 100,000 citizens. 

The rape figures revealed by Masisi are found in the ‘world population review study of 2019’, released in May this year. 

The study highlights that Botswana is the second country (in the world) with the highest rape cases per 100,000 citizens at 92.9% preceded by South Africa at 134.4% and followed by Lesotho at 82.7%. Other countries include Swaziland with 77.5%, Bermuda 67.3%, Sweden 63.5% to only mention but a few. 

She said: “For this year alone 1,642 rape cases have been reported from January to September and 672 are adolescent and youth mostly aged below 20 years. This clearly shows that rape cases need to be urgently addressed. Rape and GBV cases are hurting the reputation of the country. We need to stand up as a nation and come (up) with various approaches to deal with such social ills”. 

The 2019 study revealed that Batswana females aged between 16 and 19 years are four times more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault. 

Among others the study indicated that Batswana female college students of ages 18 to 24 years are three times more likely to experience sexual assault together with transgender people.  In addition, the review averred that Batswana living with disabilities are twice likely to be victims of rape. 

Rape statistics released by Botswana Police Service (BPS) recently highlighted that 2,064 reported cases of rape were recorded for the year 2017 and 2018 respectively. The incidents mostly affect children and youth aged below 20 years.

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