Botswana: Name, Shame Law Imminent

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Gaborone — Government will prioritise the Sexual Offenders Bill in efforts to table it in the November Parliament sitting.

Addressing the nation on gender based violence (GBV) issues Friday, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi said the bill proposed stiffer penalties and establishment of a sex offenders' registry for recording and publicising names as well as particulars of all persons convicted of sexual offences.

President Masisi said the measures were expected to reduce GBV-related cases and in the process promote the safety and security of women and children who were the most affected by the scourge.

"The implementation of tough measures and through concerted efforts, the country will make notable progress in the prevention and elimination of GBV," he said.

The President condemned the increasing number of GBV cases in Botswana saying it was disheartening that some Batswana continued to perpetrate crimes of violence against children and women.

Quoting the latest Botswana Police Service reports, President Masisi said rape cases were on the rise in Botswana noting that more went unreported for fear of retribution and victimisation.

Statistics also showed a rapid increase and severity in the number of defilement cases recorded between 2018 and 2020, he added

"The World Population Review of 2020 reveals Botswana as a country with the second highest number of rape cases in the world at 92.9 per hundred thousand people. These revelations are not in consonance with our national principle of botho and essentially destroys families which are a key foundation in building the future of our nation," said President Masisi.

In addition, President Masisi said the 2018 Botswana national relationship study and the current prevalence of GBV also revealed that many women and men had experienced some form of violence in their lifetime.

He said it was devastating that the leading perpetrators of GBV were usually parents, guardians, caregivers, relatives and members of the community saying even worse, violence mostly occurred between intimate partners.

"This man-made tragedy of domestic violence, does not only violate the rights of the innocent but it also denies its victims and their families basic human rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution of Botswana," he said.

Domestic violence, sexual assault and other forms of GBV deprived survivors of their privacy, dignity, sound mental and physical health but in many instances it remained shrouded in a culture of silence and secrecy.

The President therefore called on all Batswana to take decisive steps and act collectively to combat GBV.

"We cannot be bystanders in a country where a segment of our population appears to have turned predators on the vulnerable members of our society, particularly women and children," he said.

Dr Masisi said success in fighting the prevailing moral decay in Botswana was dependent on the nation's collective resolve to name and shame those perpetuating GBV and reporting the heinous crime to the relevant authorities.

Batswana, he said, descended from a society of chivalry where males were gentlemen and protective guardians as well as cushions and cloaks of security for the homestead.

President Masisi said ongoing national efforts to fight GBV included being a signatory to international gender instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development.

In addition, he said government had adopted a policy on gender and development which prioritised access to justice and freedom from violence.

Dr Masisi said government was committed to abolishing all laws discriminating on the basis of gender.

The move would enhance Botswana's adherence to international norms and standards related to gender equality, he said.

Source : BOPA

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