Rape and violence against women has become increasingly common in Botswana, to the point where it rarely makes headlines anymore.
Although the United Nation’s Organisation on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has indicated that most rape cases happen in countries in conflict and war zones, Botswana is famous for its peaceful people.
Sadly it seems this proud reputation is fading fast as incidents of murder, defilement and gender-based violence lay bloody siege to the land.
In a bid to get to the bottom of this destructive social ailment, last week Maun-based organisation Leadership Craft Network held a workshop at Maun Lodge.
Among the attendees were representatives from Botswana Police, Social Services, District Health Management and Women against Rape.
Statistics were brought forth, including rape cases of children as young as five as well as multiple murders.
Giving a startling illumination of just how deep the problem runs, Head of Police in the North West District Policing area, Peter Gochela revealed his region received 147 reported rape cases last year.
According to Gochela, the majority of these cases involved complainants under the age of 21.
“We may be having more incidents which were never reported,” added the grim top cop, whose policing area includes Maun and other villages around the Okavango Delta.
“These figures show that there is something wrong in our society. This is who we are, this is our mirror!” he reflected.
The overwhelming consensus seemed to be that poor parenting was an underlying factor to the type of society emerging in Botswana today.
“When you grow up in a violent environment, there are high chances that you will become violent later in life,” warned Gochela, expressing fear that if this escalates, it may detract visitors from travelling to the tourist town and thus impact negatively on the country’s economy.
Eva Lephirimile, a mid-wife who represented the district’s health management team, reiterated the Police chief’s words.
“I have to treat all the patients that the Police have to deal with. I have seen girls as young as 12 going through labour in the maternity ward, scared and in great pain, their innocence having been stolen from them. Sometimes I feel pain to see children I delivered in my 31 years as a mid-wife grow to become criminals because somewhere parents did not raise them the right way.”
Lephirimile stressed it is important for parents to realise parenting is not only about providing shelter, food and clothes for their children.
“It is also about providing an environment which is full of love, as children need social and psychological support for them to grow into responsible adults.
“We have professional young people who committed suicide because they did not know the way out when they faced challenges in life,” Lephirimile added.
Another topical point was The United Nations Annual World Happiness Report, which once again placed Botswana among the unhappiest nations in the world.
Released in March, this year’s report ranked 156 countries according to their well being variables, including: social freedoms, social support, life expectancy, absence of corruption, GDP per capita, generosity and absence of corruption. Botswana was rated at number 148.
Statistics suggest that this silent war is being fought over and on top of women and young girls’ bodies.
It is against this bleak backdrop that Leadership Craft Network introduced a new training programme, ‘Lore le Ojwa’.
The aim is to research and train today’s community on good parenting, in the hope of making Botswana a happier and more responsible nation.
“We believe that parenting contributes towards human and socio-economic development. If we are going to instill certain traits of success, responsibility, accountability in the next generation, it has to begin at home,” concluded the company’s CEO, Nonofo Mataboge.