Sexual harassment is said to be continuing to be a barrier that limits female participation in sport locally. The Secretary General of International Working Group Botswana, Game Mothibi, has said female athletes aged between 13 and 16 continue to experience this type of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and most of the time these cases die a natural death. “These cases are usually not reported. If they are, they do not get investigated and eventually die natural death,” said the worried Mothibi. She said that all this is made possible by the fact that there is no sexual harassment policy in sport locally. She believes that with the policy such issues could be easily addressed and solved.
Mothibi said GBV can be destructive as the athletes will end up underperforming due to stress related to such cases. She, therefore, called for the policy and procedures on sexual harassment to be put in place to address these issues. The IWG of Botswana has since come up with recommendations that they feel is relevant to this. Some of them include the need for vetting and screening of coaches and officials who work with the athletes. HeForShe Champion in sport Solly Reikeletseng shared the same sentiments with Mothibi saying indeed a policy on sexual harassment in sport is needed. Reikeletseng, who is also the chairperson of the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC), revealed that they have taken a decision to formulate the policy.
“I have in the past had female coaches coming to me to complain that they are not treated well. However, when advised to take up the case many of these die a natural death,” Reikeletseng said.
He said with a policy and procedures in place such issues will be easily addressed. Reikeletseng said a task team made up of both women and men will soon be set up to prepare for the policy. This has been a welcome development to women. Mothibi pointed out that this will help reduce the cases that have been covered up because of lack of the policy.
As the HeForShe champion, Reikeletseng’s role is to mobilise men in Botswana to stand in support for women equality in and outside the parameters of sport. He has hit the ground running and has already had already held discussions with men about this issue in Francistown. Following these discussions he feels there is still a long way to go to address the issue of gender based violence. He said it is clear that this kind of violence is there and many people do not talk about it even though it affects them. However, he is committed to stand against this and continue to mobilise other men to do the same.
Since his launch as champion last week, already 1344 men have registered for this commitment of standing against gender based violence. He wants get over 20 000 men registered for this cause.
“I know many wonder what next, they sign and then what? Let me take this chance to say this is not just a verbal commitment but a commitment to support women and girls in the fight against gender based violence and discrimination,” said Reikeletseng