Even though there has been a general decline in crime during the coronavirus (COVID-19) national lockdown period, the number of gender-based violence (GBV) cases including those that involve children has increased.
An increase in the number of sexual offences involving underage girls is a cause for concern, something that has forced the police to intensify their response to crimes involving children.
Speaking at a cycling event for a GBV-free generation awareness campaign in Selebi-Phikwe on Friday, deputy police commissioner, Dinah Marathe said the assessment of law enforcement response to the scourge is rolling. The police have expressed their disappointment at the continued killing and raping of women and children.
From January to September 2020, a total of 129 people were murdered of which 48 of them were victims of GBV. During the same period, 1,036 rape cases were recorded, eight of which involved minors aged between seven and 12 as victims.
The rampant defilement cases concern the police despite their continued efforts to sensitise men about defilement and other sexual offences.
Marathe revealed that the Botswana Police Service (BPS) as the first respondent of the crime are steering their capabilities at the workplace to fight GBV.
She said the priority list of their talks are child reporting centres that are currently being built in police stations across the country to address the GBV crisis.
Marathe added the Gender and Child Protection Unit would be dealing with issues of domestic violence and sexual offences relating to children amongst others.
She said the roll-out also includes workshopping post commanders on GBV law enforcement guidelines and stakeholders engagement.
“The stakeholders include amongst them the DPP, magistrates, social workers to mention but a few so that they can come up with a well oiled system focusing on GBV,” she said.
The deputy commissioner added although BPS is faced with financial constraints due to COVID-19, they will have established child-friendly reporting centres by April next year.
During the first national lockdown, police recorded 22 rape cases in which seven of them involved children aged between two and 13, as alleged victims of rape by their close family members.
In the past, the police blamed the defilement and rape problem on parents and further accused them of conspiring with the defilers to frustrate their investigations in efforts to bring the offenders to book and get the cases to a trial.
The police have explained that anybody below 18 is considered a child by law and it does not matter whether the child did or did not consent to any sexual act, as it will still be considered defilement.