The church in Botswana, under the leadership of the Women’s Ministries Department, took a bold stand against the abuse of women and girls by marching through the city of Gaborone and presented a petition to the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs in the government of Botswana.
Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, pastors, pastor’s wives and pathfinders all took part in this vitally important march. Sixty-five police cadets and their officers joined the church. NGO’s such as the YWCA, WAR (Women Against Rape), women from political parties, government officials and representatives from the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, also came out in full support of the EndItNow programme.
The march was a vibrant affair with the police cadets singing and setting the pace all the way while pathfinders played their musical instruments. After the march, a special programme was conducted with key speakers that included the UNFPA country representative, Ms Aisha Camara-Drammeh, the Director for Womenâs Affairs in the Botswana Government; Mrs V. Mogegeh, the Senior Assistant Police Commissioner and the Director of training at the Botswana Police College; Mrs Maluti Gabositwe. Each speaker voiced their views against the abuse of women and girls and commended the Seventh-day Adventist church for introducing the EndItNow program.
Ms Aisha Camara-Drammeh said: “Violence against women harms families and communities across generations and reinforces other forms of violence in society. It also impoverishes women, their families, communities and nations. Although we accept the fact that most victims are female and perpetrators male, this should not make us forget that not all men are abusive or that males can also be victims. When fighting violence against women we should, by all means, encourage the majority of men who are against this oppression to join our cause.” She quoted the former Executive Director of UNFPA, Ms Thoraya Obaid who once said, “we cannot make poverty history unless we make violence against Women history. We cannot stop the spread of HIV unless we stop discrimination and violence against women and girls”.
The situation in Botswana is severe. According to available statistics, gender-based violence will directly affect three in five women in Botswana at some point in their lifetime. Police statistics indicate that the number of so-called “passion killings” has doubled within the last few years. Almost all of the victims are female. Reported cases of rape also continue to rise in this country. The Police Director shared with the audience some gruesome statistics of passion killing and abuse. She commended the church for the EndItNow campaign and said that it was timely if one looked at the latest statistics concerning rape, defilement, domestic violence, indecent assault, etc. She mentioned that together we can defeat violence. Together we can change deeply rooted attitudes and practices that discriminate against women and girls. “Together,” she said, “we can ensure that all those who respond to violence against women whether they are police officers, judges, lawyers, or social workers are supported to provide a response that is compassionate and comprehensive.”
A petition was also presented to Peter Siele, Minister of Labour and Home Affairs under the guidance of the Women’s Ministries Director of the Botswana Union, Mrs Susan Williams who also thanked the minister and all the organisations who partnered with them to take a stand against violence.