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Voice woman fighting a good fight

2024
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Voice woman fighting a good fight
MEDIA PROFESSIONAL: Boitshepo Balozwi

WOMEN AGAINST RAPE SPEAK OUT

It is not a secret that many females live in fear, fear of possible rape from both unknown and known males within their everyday spaces.

It has become common that the conversation around rape, GBV and all issues emanating from this keep dominating conversations across board.

Whilst many are outraged by what may seem like a slow manner in which officials are willing to deal with this monster we are grappling with, Voice Woman gets to hear from four female activists offering their thoughts on the subject matter.

Speaking on the reported 109 rape cases at the beginning of the year, Boitshepo Balodwzi says, “These occurred over a short period. It is highly likely that more cases went unreported during this period. People have wondered if all the rape cases were women and girls, that maybe men were also raped. Indeed, some men may have been raped, even individuals from the LGBTQ communities are affected by rape. Unfortunately nobody is exempt from being raped.

However, similar to other forms of Gender Based Violence and femicides, studies show that men on women, young girls and even children predominantly perpetrate rape. The #JusticeForZinedine #MeToo, #HearMeToo and #EsengMoNgwaneng movements indicate how widespread the problem is.

Often there is the stereotypical narrative that rape victims have themselves to blame. My perception is that our community is still largely patriarchal in attitude (and actions) and as supported also by some women. When patriarchal attitudes and cultures collide with other socioeconomic, legal and structural barriers they leave the girl-child vulnerable. Therefore we need to invest in programmes that empower the girl – child and ensure An AIDS Free generation.”

Lebogang Pillar “Like every other woman living in Botswana, I fear for my everyday safety. If our statistics are anything to go by, 1 in 3 women will be violated in her lifetime. Given our small population size this is a scary phenomenon. Clearly women don’t have a safe space to exist freely in Botswana,” She says with a sigh.

ACTIVIST AND LAWYER: Lebogang Pillar

Pillar goes on to say, “The causes of violation against women, children and vulnerable members of society are many and varied and as such no one pronged approach can be proposed as a solution to the problem that has besieged our nation. However simplifying the reporting process and ensuring that members of the public have confidence that their cases will be fully investigated by the police services is in my opinion of high priority.

A Rape and GBV Unit within the Police Services should be created. This would allow for the in-depth training of cops assigned to this unit in interrogation of victims / survivors, investigation and prosecution of such cases.

Further the antagonistic judicial system where the victim / survivor is made to feel as if they are being tried should be looked into and the victim / survivor be afforded protection during trial.

There are areas of the law that ought to be amended such as the criminalisation of the marital rape and implementation of the sexual offences registry among others.

My perfect Botswana is where women and children and the vulnerable groups of society feel safe and secure to exist without being made to feel like less of citizens”.

Magdalene Mathiba – Madibela “Rape is prevalent in Botswana with chilling statistics. Despite the glaring situation of GBV in Botswana, rape culture is rife with increasing situations of victim blaming, trivialising rape, and silencing or threatening victims. In Botswana we still witness patriarchal tendencies that perpetuate objectification of women’s bodies.

GENDER SPECIALIST: Magdalene Mathiba-Madibela

As a nation we have to redefine masculinity and NEVER allow negative stereotypes that perpetuate violence against women and children to shape our culture or actions. Men must never assume consent.

No means NO! Sex without consent is RAPE, period! As a nation we must ALL unapologetically condemn any form of violence without BUTs! Speak Out if you hear or see someone making an offensive joke, blaming victims or trivializing rape- condemn and correct them.

Botswana must strengthen the criminal justice system to be more responsive including addressing emotional, psychological and legal needs of victims, protection of victims in the criminal justice system and effective sentencing of perpetrators. Initiatives and programmes to protect the rape victims and witnesses must be established as a matter of urgency.

The men folk in our society must play a greater role as change agents to STOP rape.”

Lesego Nchunga – Mokaila “As a society we need to prioritize the need to redefine masculinity.

“Patriarchy leads to toxic masculinity, which is the actual root of many of the problems. Masculinity’s general association with dominance and authority makes it more susceptible to violent and aggressive outbursts against those perceived as weaker. Consent is at the core of sexual abuse prevention. A no should be heard, respected, not questioned nor negotiated. This has to be taught to young and old people alike. Another key point is holding those who deal with rape reports accountable. Stigma and double victimization leads to unreported cases. The police and social welfare establishments need to be adequately equipped and trained to assist victims. The media should ethically report on abuse issues with a view to accord the survivor dignity.

CIVIL SOCIETY ATTORNEY: Lesego Nchunga-Mokaila

We must hold our media to higher standards as sources of information for the community.

In addition we need to condemn those that publicly claim to be against rape and abuse, and yet fail to hold themselves and those around them accountable and responsible. It is never the victim’s choice to be raped. But it is ALWAYS the rapist’s choice to commit the crime of rape.

I want to live in a Botswana in which I don’t question all males. One in which I am sure that I am safe, no matter where I am.

A Botswana where my leaders, when faced by the national crisis that rape is becoming, don’t chant, “we have to do something” as if it is a mantra, but leaders who capacitate units tasked with response to rape and violence against women in similar ways as anti poaching.