Gaborone — Botswana Police Service (BPS) commissioner has outlined initiatives and interventions the organisation has instituted to address gender-based violence.
Giving a keynote address at the "National Workshop on COVID-19 and GBV: The Role of Law Enforcement" in Gaborone October 14, Mr Keabetswe Makgophe said BPS had launched a dedicated toll-free number, 0800 600 144, to improve accessibility and response to GBV reports.
He said BPS had embarked on a vigorous campaign against GBV with awareness forums targeting both possible victims and would-be perpetrators.
One such forum, he said, was Pitso ya Borre, the first of which was held in February this year.
Mr Makgophe said his organisation continued to review and improve the process of handling GBV cases.
He said plans were afoot to establish a gender and child protection unit which would deal with among others domestic violence and sexual offences relating to children.
BPS was in the process of piloting child-friendly centers in Gaborone in an effort to create a conducive environment for interviewing affected children, he disclosed.
The police chief however said handling and management of GBV cases required a multi-sectoral approach.
He therefore called on all stakeholders including courts, prisons, health care, social service providers, NGOs, civil society, communities and religious leaders to fully collaborate and offer support.
Mr Makgope said Botswana's commitment to fighting and preventing GBV was evidenced by membership and domestication of several relevant international instruments together with protocols.
He cited Convention on the Rights of the Child and African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children as well as Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women.
Mr Makgophe said government departments, NGOs, private sector and civil society as well as individuals such as First Lady Neo Masisi were also committed to addressing GBV.
Another speaker, SADC Director of Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs Mr Jorge Cardoso said GBV was a key human security issue in the region.
He said a 2018 SADC study on Regional Comprehensive Gender Based Violence indicated that the most predominant form of violence in SADC was emotional abuse.
According to the study, he said, 26.8 per cent of respondents had experienced emotional violence.
For his part, European Union ambassador Mr Jan Sadek described GBV as one of the most pervasive violations of human rights in the world and one of the least prosecuted crimes.
He also said it was a great threat to lasting peace and development.
About EU support, he said the organisation had signed two programmes with NGOs of "ending GBV Community by Community in Botswana," and "Communities Acting Together to Fight Gender Based Violence and Discrimination in Botswana."
Mr Sadek said EU was behind the Monna Tia communication campaign and was also supporting SADC through "Support to Peace and Security in the SADC region" programme aimed at strengthening GBV response capacities.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>