Bobonong — United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) advocacy champion, Mr Peter Siele says children in Botswana were facing a lot of danger emanating from men that sexually abuse them.
Addressing traditional leaders of Bobirwa at Bobonong kgotla on September 14, Mr Siele stated that in other countries children's rights were being violated due to civil wars, but in Botswana they were being violated by older people.
He said some people sexually abused children calling it 'blood cleansing' and wondered why those that wanted to cleanse their blood did not go to hospital for proper check-up and treatment.
Mr Siele implored traditional leaders to stage a brave fight against child molesters and said those that sexually abused children should be named and shamed.
He said the Children's Act fully gives community leaders to act against abuse of children and called on them to acquaint themselves with the act because they were some community leaders that claim that they were powerless.
Mr Siele said some leaders blamed government for the situation, saying children spent the majority of time with their parents at home and called on parents to always keep an eye their children.
He said schools recorded high pregnancy rates, the majority of which occurred during school holidays, a sign that parents have also neglected their parenting duties.
Mr Siele expressed concern that the society seems to protect the integrity of the perpetrators rather than the future of the victims being the child.
The meeting was organised to give dikgosi and other community leaders a platform to develop consensus in the prevention of and response to sexual exploitation and abuse of children in Botswana.
The UNICEF country representative, Ms Julianna Lindsey said sexual exploitation negativ ely affected children, stating that in some instances it was perpetrated by fathers, adults and teachers who ruin the future of the children.
She said the meeting was a platform for dialogue, to generate ideas and clarify the role of dikgosi in preventing sexual abuse among children.
Research conducted by Ministry of Basic Education, she said demonstrates that one out of three children were engaged in sexual intercourse before the age of 13, while 13 per cent of teenagers were reported to have engaged in transactional sex.
Ms Lindsey stated that the research further indicates that one out of five teens were forced to have sex in the last 12 months and raised concern that the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate among teenagers 15-19 years was at seven per cent.
For their part, some dikgosi blamed parents for negligence and divergence from Setswana culture to western cultures.
Kgosi Boitumelo Garegae of Moletemane blamed some parents for failure to show children what is right and wrong.
Kgosi Garegae stated that in the past both women and men used to initiate young girls and boys about dangers of engaging in early sex.
He called for the introduction of initiation institutions, where young people could be taught to spot situations where they could be lured into sexual exploitation.
Kgosi Garegae said failure to initiate children at early age had led to atrocities such as passion killings and called for the review of corporal punishment on the bare back for men that exploited children.
Kgosi Bethuel Machete of Motlhabaneng said dikgosi must also be involved to try defilement cases, saying currently the cases were attended to by the police and social workers.
Kgosi Machete said he had, with other dikgosi of Molalatau, Lepokole, Tshokwe and Robelela, started campaigns to raise awareness against child exploitation in the schools as well as addressed kgotla meetings in their villages.
A teacher at Matshekge Senior Secondary School, Ms Moageledi Olebeng said there was a problem of pregnancy in the area.
Ms Moageledi said last year they recorded 28 cases of teenage pregnancy and 22 incest cases as well as sexual harassment.
Source : BOPA