Gender and Human Rights Thematic Group Press Statement

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26 April, 2018

 

PRESS STATEMENT

 

 

URGENT ACTION IS NEEDED TO END VIOLATION OF WOMENS’ AND GIRLS’ RIGHTS

 

 

GABORONE, 26th APRIL 2018

 

 

As Human Rights defenders, Gender Activists in collaboration with the Gender and Human Rights Thematic Group of the Botswana Council of NGOs (BOCONGO), we are deeply concerned about the escalating, brutal, shocking and very painful incidences of violence against women in Botswana. A few examples reflecting security and safety risks for women and girls, whether in their homes, the streets, school environment or workplace. Brutal murder of a young woman who was coming from work in Mogoditshane; a Pastor's wife, who was attacked in her home in Mochudi; harassment of a young lady at the bus rank; raping and murder of a 9 year old in White City; recent robbery and rape cases in Tlokweng and the very unfortunate occurrence last Sunday morning where a female nurse was battered and raped while on duty at Extension 2 Clinic.

Rape is not just one of the most heinous crimes, but it is also one of the most emotionally and politically charged topics of public debate. It also continues to be a contributory factor to gross violation of human rights, especially the rights of women and girls, the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Such act of violence further entrenches gender inequality by limiting the choices of women and girls. We also note from research in Botswana and elsewhere that rape occurrence is under reported. This necessitates continued improvement of reporting procedures and quality of services that are sensitive to the preservation of the human dignity of victims of rape. 

We are deeply concerned that despite the increase in rape cases in Botswana, implementation of the law against rape is still very weak and impunity for perpetrators continues. There have been media reports in the recent past of people who commit crime while on bail, and such reports include rape cases.

We are calling on the government to lead the nation in exercising due diligence towards the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls through:

Prevention: Targeting underlying Causes of VAW; transforming Society: Changing Mindsets and Modifying Behaviour; Eliminating Risk Factors; Providing Outreach and Ending Isolation; Broadening the Scope of VAW Programmes; Formulating Comprehensive Laws and Constitutional Guarantees; Collecting Data and Designing Programmes; Incorporating Intersectionality and Providing for At-risk Groups; Maintaining a Sustained Strategy; and robust engagement and collaboration with Gender and Human Rights Organizations to collectively support the implementation of the National GBV Strategy and the Referral System.

 

Protection: Ensuring Availability of and Accessibility to Coordinated Support Services; Ensuring Availability of and Accessibility to Protection Orders; Upholding the Duties of First Responders; Fostering Positive Attitudes and Sensitization through Sustained Training; Implementing a Multi-Sectoral Approach and Coordinating Services.

 

Prosecution: Addressing Victims’/ Survivors’ Needs and Fears; Developing Policies to Reduce Attrition; Providing Positive Early Victim/Survivor Engagement through the Police; Establishing Affirmative Duty to Investigate; Establishing Affirmative Duty to Prosecute; Ensuring Fair Burden of Proof and Evidentiary Standards; Ensuring Sensitivity to Confidentiality and Privacy Issues; Providing Legal Aid and Support; Reducing Delay at Every Level of the Prosecutorial Process; Fostering Confidence in the Police, Prosecutors and Judiciary; Providing Special Prosecutors and Courts; Considering Alternative Dispute Resolution (Mediation/Conciliation); Ensuring that Plural Legal Systems Align with International Human Rights Norms and Standards; and Developing a Multi-sectoral and Multi-agency Approach

Punishment of Perpetrators: Holding Perpetrators Accountable: Certainty of Punishment; Ensuring Punishment is Commensurate with Offence; Meeting the Goals of Punishment: Preventing Recidivism, Rehabilitating Perpetrators and Deterring Others; Broadening the Available Punishment Regime beyond Incarceration, where Appropriate; and Ensuring Punishment is Premised on the Principle that VAW is Not Justifiable/Excusable

Provision of Redress and Reparation for Victims/Survivors: Adopting a Victim/Survivor-oriented Perspective; Ensuring Proportionality to Gravity of Harm or Loss Suffered; Assuming Responsibility for Recuperating Reparation from Perpetrators; and Working towards Institutional Reform and Transformative Change

In conclusion we each have to contend with the question: is this the Botswana we want for Batswana women and girls - for our grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, daughters and granddaughters? The silence from structures that are charged to protect women and girls against harm and danger is deafening. We call on all government agents charged with the responsibility to protect the public against this cruel and life-altering crime; to take required urgent steps to educate the public towards its prevention and mitigation. 

Lastly, we call on and implore legislators and all who are at the helm of public authority or preside over institutions of influence; to speak out with the authority vested on them by Batswana; to condemn this social ill. We support the urgent call for immediate action from the Ministry of Health and Wellness to ensure that the work place in all Institutions is safe and secure for its workers.

 

We all as a society have a singular and collective responsibility to create equal development opportunities for women and girls by providing necessary assurances of freedom of choice and safety in their private as well as public spheres; in their pursuit of their chosen personal development paths. We owe it to past, present and future generations of Batswana women and girls.

 

 

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BOCONGO COMMUNICATIONS: 3911319