Assistant Minister of Agriculture Development and Food Security, Beauty Manake says it is time the community and community leaders including Members of Parliament (MP) join hands in the fight against gender-based violence (GBV).
When addressing Parliament on Thursday, Manake said this year’s theme, ‘Orange The World; End Violence Against Women Now!’ and the fact that “we have 16 days set aside to reflect on the issue of GBV is an indication of just how disturbing and problematic the issue has become”.
“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, which was accompanied by the national lockdown, movement restrictions and curfews, the prevalence and incidence of GBV has increased. According to the Botswana Police Service (BPS) report to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence, Justice and Security in the September 2021 sitting, during the year 2020 GBV related crimes rose by 7.4 percent, increasing from 4,471 to 4,801 reported cases,” Manake said.
“There was a 23.3% increase in threat-to-kill cases, rising from 678 to 836 reported cases. Though there was a 15.3% decrease in rape cases, from 2,265 to 1,919 reported cases, there was an alarming increase in cases of defilement, which rose by 51.1%, with 1,825 reported cases as compared to 1,208 in the previous year.”
She added though this year’s GBV statistics have not yet been quantified, at a recent breakfast meeting with the media on advancing the gender agenda in Gaborone, the Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs highlighted that since the pandemic, a total of 4,996 GBV cases were reported to the police.
Furthermore, Manake said these included gender-based related violence such as rape, murder, indecent assault, defilement and threat-to-kill.
She also highlighted that from January 1 to February 28, 2021, an alarming number of 196 rape cases were recorded. She added that this calls for immediate intervention from all stakeholders and every leader. “The most common form of GBV in Botswana is intimate partner violence where you find that it is mostly women who suffer from this form of GBV as most are at the mercy of their lovers and are dependent on such men for their welfare needs,” she said.
She applauded BPS for introducing actions such as Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for handling GBV cases across all police stations, interviewing GBV victims in secluded interview rooms to ensure privacy and confidentiality and providing a conducive, and comfortable atmosphere for the victims.
The other stride BPS was praised for is the use of the standardised process for effective case management and the integrity of evidence, which includes the chain of custody, evidence collection and documentation that is at the core of investigations.
She, however, said this plight has not spared members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBTQ) community who also suffer abuse from their lovers but struggle to report such cases to the Police due to fear of discrimination.
The assistant minister implored the victims to seek therapy from licensed psychologists for them to cope and heal from their trauma.
“We encouraged the rehabilitation of perpetrators through counselling services so that they change their abusive ways and we call on all members of this House and the entire nation to rally behind our pledge to end GBV in our country because by protecting women, we protect future generations,” she said.