Last week Friday Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union(BOSETU) held a dialogue on Gender Based Violence under the theme: Combating GBV: BOSETU Platform for Dialogue.
At this Regional Gender Forum, educators unanimously agreed that it was important to continue having a conversation on GBV, as speakers narrated its painful realities and urged BOSETU to take a leading role in the fight against the scourge.
The forum which preceded the Annual Gender Conference saw teachers engage in robust debate on what should be done.
SELEBO (Bobirwa) Regional Chairperson, Tefo Garogwe admitted they have noticed a worrying increase in GBV cases in Botswana in recent years.
“Every single day when browsing through social media we come across GBV cases and we always ask ourselves where we went wrong. We’ve questions but no answers! It is at forums like these that we can come up with long-lasting solutions to this problem,” maintained Garogwe.
Similarly, BOSETU President, Winston Radikolo noted the conference comes at a time when the country is grappling with the ‘shocking incidents of GBV’.
Radikolo thus urged the forum to come up with ‘radical solutions’ to the problem.
“We’ve to seriously think whether BOSETU should continue representing teachers who are accused of sexual offenses and other GBV related crimes,” he added.
The BOSETU President noted that social-economic inequalities such as unemployment, domestic debts, male identity and power have created a conducive climate for GBV to thrive in society, particularly against women and children.
“This calls for BOSETU to form a strategic alliance with other players in order to come up with multisectoral interventions directed at the many GBV facets,” he stressed.
Radikolo conceded that despite the union’s robust efforts, GBV cases in schools are on the rise.
“The effects of GBV in our schools are catastrophic. They compromise students’ well-being, physical and mental health as well as their cognitive natural development. Evidence has also shown that GBV in schools has far-reaching consequences in victims and perpetrators as they may grow up later in their adulthood to repeat the behaviour as they view it as normal and acceptable,” he warned.
He encouraged schools to come up with deliberate actions and comprehensive plans to deal with GBV at school level and ultimately nip its effects at an early stage.
“We’ve been a lone voice on issues of sexual violence in and around schools through debates and campaigns to sensitise those in power, but it does not look like there’s the political will to address this issue,” said Radikolo.
The BOSETU President urged the National Gender Committee to carry-out a research on the subject matter as GBV is multifaceted.
“It is a sensitive matter, and there’s a gap and limited understanding on the root cause of this pandemic. We need empirical evidence that will help us to make the right prescription, so we can come up with deliberate and well planned interventions,” Radikolo noted.
Guest Speaker Tefo Atholang, who’s also a trained teacher and co-founder of BUA Non governmental organization on depression and anxiety also encouraged teachers to speak out against GBV.
“We’ve been socialized to believe that the most silent I’m the most obedient I am, and that the most silent I am, the most submissive I’m,” said Atholang.
Religion, Atholang said was also one of the reason there is so much violence. In some churches chairs are reserved for men, while women are supposed to sit on the floor, Atholang noted.
“When we’re talking equality, we have churches preaching that men are superior. Anyone who’s superior to you then has a right to discipline you, and that is where the whole problem started,” she said.
She further said the country’s legislation is also failing to deal with GBV, citing an example of the Offenders Registration which will come into effect soon.
By the time these people are named and shamed so many women would be raped and abused already,” opined Atholang.