The Botswana Network on Ethics Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) condemns all forms of Gender Based Violence against women and young girls. This call follows an incident that took place at Gaborone Bus Rank recently, where a young woman was verbally abused, stripped naked and publicly humiliated and degraded by a mob of men. The perpetrators attempted to justify their actions with the fact that the young woman was wearing a short skirt. “Such acts of violence against women and young girls should be condemned in the strongest terms possible as they limit women and girl’s constitutional rights to freedom of movement, freedom of expression and the right to dignity. Women are rights holders and society should, therefore respect, promote and protect these rights”, said Cindy Kelemi, Executive Director of BONELA. The Protocol on Gender and Development (2008), defines Gender Based Violence as all acts perpetrated against women, men, girls, and boys on the basis of their sex which cause or could cause them physical, sexual psychological, emotional or economic harm - including the threat to take such acts or to undertake the imposition of arbitrary restrictions on or deprivation of fundamental freedoms in private or public life in peace times or during situations of armed or other forms of conflicts.
Gender Based Violence Indicators Study, found that over two-thirds of women in Botswana have experienced some form of gender-based violence in their lifetime, and 67% of women reported being victims of intimate partner violence. “The high incidence of Gender Based Violence is a clear indication that we need to strengthen our gender programmes at community as well as policy levels. The family therefore plays a key role in educating both the boy and girl child about Gender Based Violence in order to build a violence free society”, said Felistus Motimedi, Programmes Manager at BONELA. BONELA therefore calls on:
* The Police to investigate the Bus Rank incident, and ensure that the perpetrators are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
* Civil society organisations to intensify community sensitization on Gender Based Violence to prevent such from recurring.
* The public, particularly men, to lead the fight against gender-based violence by modelling good practice.