17 October 2003

Botswana: Relationship Problems Trouble Batswana Youth

MANAGING love relationships is top of the list of problems young adults in Botswana face. According to the Director of Lifeline Botswana, Kay Didimalang, most young people consulting Lifeline are afraid, stressed and aggrieved in their love relationships.

Young peoples' relationships break up early because of bereavement, divorce or HIV/AIDS.

Most young Batswana in relationships are anxious about their HIV status, finding partners for life and getting married. In the past they only had to worry about pregnancy.

Didimalang said most people who consult them are females. Male partners are reluctant to go for counselling.

"Most men do not come to us, even when we ask them to. Funnily most of violence is perpetrated by them," she said.

Other problems faced by young people are rape, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as worries about HIV tests. She pointed out that it was more difficult for her office to deal with perpetrators than the victims.

"We do not have adequate legal backing to arrest, charge or deal with perpetrators. Instead we assist those who come to us [the victims], and make sure they are protected," she said.

To ensure the victim receives maximum protection, she said they have spoken to other organisations such as Womens' Shelter, Emang Basadi, Childline Botswana and the police. She admitted that her organisation has dealt with people with intentions to commit passion killings.

After counselling there is no feedback from such people.

"We can't follow them. We don't tell anyone what to do," Didimalang said.

She advised the public to form social associations to reduce the psychological effects of HIV/AIDS.

"We, as a society, acutely need each other in this era."

Meanwhile, Pelonomi Letshwiti, Coordinator of Childline Botswana, said that a form of child abuse - negligence - is on the rise. Child negligence, according to her, is when a parent or guardian intentionally denies the child love, care, material and emotional support.

According to Letshwiti, her office has 99 such cases. She added that the cases involved children of no particular social class or sex.

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