Gaborone — Batswana should acknowledge and treat gender based violence (GBV) as a national shame of the highest order, says First Lady Ms Neo Masisi.
Speaking after completing a cycling challenge against GBV in Gaborone on October 10, she said it was therefore critical for them to work collectively and making waging a relentless war against the human tragedy a priority.
"It calls for all of us to take decisive steps and act collectively to end it. It is on this basis that I have joined efforts with Gaborone City Council mayor and Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs to raise awareness on GBV so that the nation can move towards ending it," said Ms Masisi.
She urged all stakeholders to join hands and root out GBV in all its manifestations, be it economic, emotional, physical or sexual stressing the need for everyone to be each other's keeper in order to ensure the safety of women and girl children.
Calling on Batswana to condemn and end all forms of GBV whenever they manifested, Ms Masisi also underscored the need to address GBV cases as soon as they occurred instead of letting them spiral out of control.
The first lady commended cyclists and other stakeholders for taking part in the challenge, noting that their participation would send a strong warning that the nation would no longer remain silent in the face of such a debilitating plague.
Ms Masisi called for innovative ways of sending messages across to get more attention on GBV such as the recent Pitso ya Basadi held in Kasane in which women engaged in insightful conversations around the issue.
She also implored Batswana to commit themselves towards changing the plight of GBV victims especially as the festive season was approaching.
For his part, Gaborone mayor, Mr Father Maphongo said the campaign's aim was to demonstrate displeasure towards GBV.
Mr Maphongo said Gaborone also bore the brunt of the scourge in that the city accounted for 26 per cent of cases recorded in September.
Among the GBV cases recorded, he mentioned rape, family differences, defilement, relationship conflicts, child access disputes as well as human trafficking.
"More often than not, women and children bear the brunt of GBV and today we are rising to condemn all forms of GBV and say no to it. It must stop now," he stated.
Mr Maphongo said the first lady felt the need to champion the initiative to help galvanize citizens against the ills of GBV.
He said the city council had put in place initiatives, including counselling of GBV victims and their families, in an effort to foster behavioral change, family reconstruction and emotional intelligence.
Mr Maphongo said the council had also come up with income generation strategies that GBV victims, especially women who depended on men for financial support, could use to liberate themselves from abusive relationships.
The mayor emphasised that sensitising the public on GBV was key to not leaving anyone behind in playing a role in ending the scourge.
He urged men in particular to support the campaign to end GBV.
Source : BOPA