Women rights activists on Monday petitioned Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe demanding that government and parliament should do more to eliminate violence against women and girls.
The campaign for the elimination of violence against women was also commemorated by the Inter-Parliamentary Union of which Botswana Parliament is a member.
The Parliamentary Caucus on Women alongside BONELA, DITSHWANELO, Emang Basadi, Gender Links and all other stake holders who have remained resolute in the fight against gender based violence marched to Parliament from GSS grounds to deliver the petition to Kedikilwe.
Although acknowledging government’s efforts to address this scourge by providing legal aid to those who cannot afford lawyers, they urged government to ratify international and regional instruments pertaining to violence against women.
These include the Convention on the Elimination of all forms o Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol, and to ensure full compliance with those instruments and with pertinent United Nations resolutions.
Handing over the petition Assistant Minster in the Office of the President Gloria Somolekae said the major undoing of GBV is the secrecy surrounding it.
“Most women are ashamed to go out into the open to seek help, there are many out there who are dying in silence; blaming themselves while in fact they are the victims,” Somolekae said.
Somolekae further said the time is now for all to introspect and look at beliefs which might have a bearing on the escalating issues of GBV.
“It is such a pity that an assertive woman is always viewed negatively by the society while the same is viewed as a positive attribute for men,” she said.
A GBV survivor who introduced herself as Neo said getting out of an abusive relationship is not as easy as most people portray it to be. She said usually the victim finds herself with many questions than answers.
“You start asking yourself, where do I go from here and will I be able to start afresh and make it on my own? While you are still pondering the abuse continues which can bring hopelessness,” she said.
Assistant Minister of Local Government Botlogile Tshireletso urged both men and women to make a personal vow to themselves that violence against women and girls will never happen again.
“This should be the last year that this nation should endure horrific experiences like what happened recently in Phase IV, and other heartbreaking stories of 13 year olds falling pregnant. Let us make a vow that we will all live in peace and harmony,” said Tshireletso.