One week ago - on 14 August 2020 to be exact, marked a great day in the history of the 12th Parliament of Botswana. On the day, a menfolk Member of Parliament passed a motion as a matter of urgency asking the President to set up a Commission of Enquiry on Gender Based Violence (GBV), rape and other sexual offences. Indeed, Mr. Yandani Boko – Mahalapye East MP is the real McCoy when it comes to honour, he has passed the litmus test! He mastered courage and spoke up against many men who perpetuate extreme and brutal acts of violence against women and girls, and the majority who turn a blind eye to the saga, at the highest legislative forum demonstrating guts and his will power to act. This was a bold move Sir! He recognized the urgency and magnitude of the issue and made a clarion call for the first step towards what could become a paradigm shift in the national GBV response. What makes his action bolder is that he is fully aware of the tokenism and lackluster attitude characteristic of the national prevention efforts at all levels by both men and women, and the state. Surely there is no doubt about the accuracy of the Legislator’s assertion, otherwise Botswana wouldn’t be ranking 2 out of 10 countries (at 92.9 cases per 100,000 population) with the highest rape rates in the world. Knoema, a New York based Private Corporation’s World Population Review in 2020 revealed the dire situation after painting an equally grim picture of Botswana in 2014 when our country was still tops at 91.6 cases per
100,000 population. While not percentage as some would think, how bad are the figures for Botswana?
Botswana, a small country with a population of around 2.4 million people, consists 52% female. Women make up more than half the population (>1.2 million), so excluding men from the pool of people who are disposed to this type of rape, we get more than double the reported rate. Pondering these figures is scary when noting the fact that amongst the women population there are groups of the elderly and minors (</= 18 years). That reduces the number in the pool who can reasonably be raped were we a sane society! So, using the reported rape rate on an even smaller population figure, it horrifyingly shows that left alone, almost every woman and girl/infant will have a rape experience at some point in life. Some people argue that we get unbelievably high figures because of GBV activism efforts helping rape survivors to be comfortable in reporting incidents. The question is, does awareness of a reported malady make the gravity of its consequences less harmful? Honourable Boko, you were spot on, GBV - which rape is one of the highest forms - has become a dangerous wild fire consuming both women and men. It should be urgently stopped through tough legislature and sustainable social re-orientation programs. We need to get to the bottom of things and forget about the pretentious GBV initiatives that are currently disempowering our people – what we are doing now doesn’t work, period!
Think about it, our entire society is perishing from the consequences of rape and other forms of GBV. Let’s ask ourselves a few questions; are we a perverted society whose people are constantly thinking about and acting out obnoxious sex acts causing pain, anger and all kinds of evil emotions and intent? What has gone wrong? Where do our men and boys get this mindset? What is the contribution of both men and women towards such a social trajectory? We need to unearth the foundational gender misconceptions that drive rapists and abusers to act out instincts lower than those of animals. Rape and abuse survivors and perpetrators suffer alike! The blame game isn’t helping, the situation makes us a bunch of criminals and, wounded and frightened people – at home, in the street and at work. The negative consequences on development cannot be imagined. A safe and prosperous Botswana can never be built by rape and abuse survivors and perpetrators. This is the time to act!
Dr. Tinaye Mmusi – Founder & CEO CLGE Brainstorming from a COVID 19 Stance!