On a date coinciding with the launch of the 16 Days Campaign Against Violence on Women and Children (25th November 2019), Superintendent Poloko Oteng, station Commander of Serowe police said the number of murder-suicide cases recorded in their policing district in 2019 are a cause for concern.
From November 25th to December 10th, Botswana joined the world in commemorating 16 Days of Activism against Violence on Women and Children under the theme ‘Generation Equality Stands against Rape’. The UN Secretary General has pronounced that for the next two years, the campaign will focus solely on rape.
Speaking in an interview, Superintendent Oteng said so far 10 cases have been recorded compared to the five recorded in 2018. Of the 10 cases recorded five suspects committed suicide which brings the total number of deaths associated with lovers to 15. According to the station commander most of the incidents involve young people under the age of 40 years and the weapons used to commit these murders are usually sharp objects like knives and axe.
He says some of these incidents could have been avoided if action have been taken sooner, citing the last passion killing that they recorded. He said the couple always had fights, and the parents knew about this and if the victims do not report this and they end up killing each other, the parents will now remain with the guilt of not having taken action earlier. “If you find that your child is a victim of domestic violence, as parents you can report such incident, by doing that you will have helped your child because action will be taken earlier therefore averting an incident that could lead to death” he advised. He also encouragedparents to work with them without fear because nowadays the police have presence everywhere in form of special constables, police volunteers and neighborhood watch as these are the people they can easily talk to because they form part of their community.
However Superitendendent Oteng had cautioned couples to avoid actions that can lead to these killings. He advised ladies who get in relationships just to benefit from it to avoid doing so. “Our sisters should avoid getting into relationship for material gain, if you get into relationship with those intentions, and on the other hand your partner intentions are to build a relationship that could lead to marriage and just because your intentions are not in line with each other, it will mean you are two people who are not after the same thing. Therefore this always lead to conflict that could end in murder” said Oteng. He also advised men to avoid situation where by they will give their partners gifts when the relationship is still good and once the relationship turns sour they opt to murder their partners.He said if couples find themselves in these situations where they feel the other partner had used them for material gain they can approach courts which can then resolve their conflict amicably.
Superintendent Oteng also advised couples to seek help from professionals, Pastors, headmen of arbitrations, family and friends.
In other news, superintendent Oteng said there are prepared and ready for the Christmas and New Year holidays. He said they will be on the alert for any incidents that may compromise the safety and lives of the people.
With a number of festivals happening in his policing area during these holidays, he said they will have enough police officers to handle them and he had also advised the festival organizers to provide their own security. He adds that, it is the organizersresponsibility to make sure their customers are protected to avoid incidents of violence that may result in stabbings and deaths. He warned them that if they don’t protect their customers they may also end up facing the law under section 219,accessory after the fact to murder, which says any person who becomes an accessory after the fact to murder is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for life. “We want them to be in control of their customers whether we are there or not, they must address them and tell them what they expect from them… if now at your festival there is always stabbings and deaths, then you are also an accessory, and if the law find you guilty without any reasonable doubt you will face the same punishment as the perpetrator” he cautioned.
He also reminded Batswana to take care of themselves during these holidays, as their safety begins with them.He appealed to them to report any incident of law breaking.
A 2012 study by Women’s Affairs Department and Gender Links titled ‘Botswana Gender-Based Violence Indicators Study’ found that over two thirds of women in Botswana (67 percent) have experienced some form of gender violence in their lifetime, including partner and non-partner crime while only 44 percent of men have admitted to perpetuating violence against women.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence (not including sexual harassment) at some point in their lives. Rape is rooted in a complex set of male-controlled beliefs, power, and control which continues to produce a social environment within which sexual violence is prevalent and normalized.
The exact numbers of rape and sexual assault cases are extremely difficult to confirm due to frequent leeway and immunity for perpetrators, stigma towards survivors, and lack of reporting. UN Women (2019) reports that less than 10% of women who are violated report their cases. In some cases, survivors of rape even decide to withdraw cases from courts of law.