Gaborone — Studies conducted globally have revealed that 80 per cent of sexual violence is between people who know each other.
In an interview with BOPA, Botswana Gender Based Violence Prevention and Support Centre, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ms Lorato Moalusi said such criminal acts include date rape, fathers molesting daughters and sexual molestation of siblings.
She confirmed that cases of sexual violence were high and constantly on the rise in communities, adding that the centre offered emergency and temporary refuge for women who were physically threatened and abused.
Ms Moalusi also said they sheltered women and girls of all ages and boys below the age of 13, noting that even though the facility was only meant to offer temporary refuge for a maximum of three months for victims of abuse, due to emerging challenges, some clients were housed for two years or even longer.
"In some instances, cases were still before courts of law and taking longer to complete and at times perpetrators were at large and therefore offering the victims some form of safe haven," said Ms Moalusi.
She said the centre was concerned by cases of gender based violence (GBV) involving family members as in most cases, justice was defeated.
Ms Moalusi observed that it was unfortunate for victims to die in silence as they were not eager to expose family members.
Ms Moalusi said a study that was conducted by Botswana National Relationships Study has revealed some disturbing statistics of GBV involving relatives that were reported to law authorities and only to be withdrawn by victims.
"According to the study, out of the 5446 GBV cases that were recorded in 2015/2016, 2092 cases were withdrawn.
Some of them were reported late and therefore lacking evidence as they were no medical reports, others were withdrawn as victims felt the courts were taking forever to conclude cases and therefore opted to reconcile with perpetrators." She noted.
In some instances, compensation was offered to victims by perpetrators as a sign of being remorseful, said Ms Moalusi.
She said GBV cases that were reported at the centre range from intimate partner violence, physical and economic, and added that most of the sexual violence cases were reported by women.
Even though all other forms of GBV are reported at the centre, sexual violence was more concerning as some of the survivors of sexual violence leave under fear due to being threatened with violence by perpetrators and end up not reporting.
Ms Moalusi said some report, but their cases are never pursued as they refuse to reveal the offenders' identity and noted that the only power that victims of GBV had was to report what has happened, revealing the identity of the wrongdoers and by so doing allowing justice to take its course.
"As the centre, we offer them psycho-social support in order to regain their power," said Ms Moalusi.
She said some offenders threaten victims with violence for fear of legal action and that their reputation would be tarnished in the process.
Furthermore, Ms Moalusi said some GBV offenders blamed alcohol and substance abuse for their criminal acts.
Ms Moalusi said women naturally nurture and cared for others and revealed that acts of violence were in many cases not triggered by any form of provocation.
"Men abuse women as an issue of instilling their power and control.
Some men would claim that they have anger issues, but it is unfortunate that they only unleash it by abusing women and girls and not any other members of the society," she said.
Ms Moalusi added that most victims of abuse had a charm syndrome as people who abuse their partners present a completely different character in society as they command some form of respect and therefore whenever they are associated with some form of wrongdoing, the society will take their side and blame the victim for tarnishing their image.
"Even if a woman has an abusive partner, there is a time when the sequence will reach a honeymoon stage and therefore the victim of abuse will feel comforted and therefore withdraw a case," she said. She was also of the view that based on the findings, criminal acts of rape were not influenced by the desire to have sexual gratification, but have to do with the emotional status of a man.
"If it is all about sexual satisfaction, then how do we justify sexual violence of a toddler or of aged woman," probed Ms Moalusi.
She said it was all about hurting someone, noting that men suffered a lot of emotional abuse while women were mostly affected by emotional violence.
"We are adamant and agree that there is violence against men, the only challenge is that it is least reported," she said.
Ms Moalusi also revealed that women in the 21st century were more empowered and independent to thrive without the support of men. "More women were empowered with education, and therefore are at par with men in terms of getting better paying jobs," said Ms Moalusi.
She said the society must prepare the boy child for the current reality, which was that the girl child's place was no longer in the kitchen and were no longer dependent on men to provide for the family.
"A man who has not been assisted to adjust to the transition of being with a woman who was empowered will find it difficult to cope and therefore resort to abuse in trying to stamp his authority," she said.
Ms Moalusi added that in today's world, women enter into relationships not seeking for men to provide for them and men have a problem with such women, not knowing how to handle them. BOPA
Source : BOPA