Lesotho: Morai Speaks On Women, Child Abuse

--says one in three women have experienced GBV

...urges communities to be more involved in fighting the scourge

Letsatsi Selikoe

GENDER based violence (GBV) is a grim reality in Lesotho and a societal crisis as exemplified in harrowing statistics of violence against women and children.

So menacing is GBV that 60 percent of children have been subjected to the scourge and one in three women in Lesotho have experienced violence from an intimate partner, creating need for community engagement and transparency in dealing with the scourge.

This is according to Acting Commissioner of Police, Mahlape Morai, who spoke as the guest of honour at Boiketlo FM's official launch gala dinner at the 'Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru on Friday.

"In Lesotho, gender-based violence remains a grim reality," she declared, the gravity of her words reverberating throughout the venue.

Painting a sobering picture of the situation to buttress her point, Dr Morai shared the distressing figures.

"Did you know that one in three women in Lesotho has experienced physical violence from an intimate partner? Or that over 60% of children suffer physical abuse? These numbers are devastating, and they represent a collective failure on our part," Dr Morai said.

Dr. Morai, continuing her impassioned address, underscored the fact that GBV was not just a Lesotho problem, but a global crisis affecting women worldwide.

"Ladies and gentlemen," she intoned, "this problem isn't just limited to our country. According to the United Nations, every 5 minutes, a woman somewhere in the world is killed by an intimate partner or family member. Every 5 minutes! This is a heartbreaking statistic, and it's one that demands our urgent attention."

Urging the community to step up and work together, she highlighted the importance of collaboration between law enforcement and citizens in order to prevent and address such heinous crimes.

"I'm here to tell you that law enforcement cannot solve this problem on its own. We need you--the people--to be our eyes and ears on the ground," she said.

"We need you to be vigilant, to be aware, to report any suspicious activity. We must break the cycle of silence that has allowed this violence to fester in our society.

"Together, we can make a difference. Together, we can save lives. And together, we can build a future where everyone in Lesotho can live without fear of abuse."

In her closing remarks, Dr Morai made a powerful plea for change.

"My message to you tonight is simple: enough is enough. It's time for us to say 'No more!' to the endemic violence against women and children in our country. It's time for us to take a stand, to raise our voices, and to fight back against this scourge," she said.

With a renewed sense of purpose and resolve, the crowd erupted in thunderous applause, seemingly agreeable and united in their commitment to end gender-based violence in their nation.

Dr. Morai's stirring call to action, serves as a reminder that every individual, regardless of their position in society, has a role to play in eradicating the pervasive illness that is GBV.

GBV has been tearing apart the lives of women and girls, hindering development, and stifling progress.

In the mountainous landscapes of Lesotho, over 86% of Basotho women and girls have experienced GBV at one point or another in their lives.

In late 2023, when the world observed the 16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence, former All Basotho Convention (ABC) deputy-leader, Pinki Manamolela, would tell parliament that that year alone, an estimated 86 percent of women had experienced GBV that was either physical, emotional, psychological or financial.

The key driver, Dr Manamolela said, was poverty which led to women becoming financially dependent on their partners, and also protecting their abusers instead of reporting them to law enforcement.

As such, Dr Manamolela said, the only way the scourge of GBV could be eradicated in Lesotho, would be if legislators drove sensitization campaigns in their respective constituencies, to equip women at the grassroots with knowledge and skills to deal with the scourge.

According to Dr Manamolela, it was pivotal that women and girls were sensitised about GBV and equipped with skills to empower themselves by starting businesses or income generating projects, to limit their dependence on men.

"In 2023 alone, 86 percent of Basotho women have experienced abuse in all its forms, be it physical, emotional and psychological, within their families. Abuse is experienced in our villages and families, thus adversely affecting the economy and shaking the pillars of Lesotho's peace," Dr Manamolela said.

"Indeed, there are people, women especially, who have experienced GBV and are not ashamed to talk about it. However, the rate at which women experience GBV in Lesotho, should compel Basotho from all walks of life to stand up, unite and speak in one voice against abuse."

GBV has also been very costly to Lesotho. It has been reflected as one of the most pervasive human rights violation, with a study by the Commonwealth Secretariat in 2020, projecting that 'violence against women specifically, costs Lesotho M1,926 million (5.548% of Gross Domestic Product GDP).

AllAfrica publishes around 500 reports a day from more than 100 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.