September 9, 2020
HONORABLE MEMBERS – POLYGAMY IS NOT A SOLUTION TO GENDER BASED VIOLENCE PANDEMIC
The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) and Sisonke Botswana Organization are gravelly concerned and disappointed by Specially Elected Member of Parliament and Assistant Minister of Agriculture Development and Food Security Honourable Beauty Manake’s argument in parliament that Polygamy is a possible solution to the gender based violence pandemic currently devastating our country. We posit that this comment demonstrates a lack of commitment and political will to address the escalating incidence of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Botswana.
BONELA and Sisonke Botswana Organization are of the view that the Assistant Ministers’ submission is uninformed and amounts to gross negligence. It is inexcusable that leaders who have been entrusted with the protection of their people can make such comments. Legislators needs to understand and appreciate that they have a moral and legal obligation to ensure a conducive environment for the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the rights of Batswana through the informed enactment and implementation of laws and policies that promote dignity and positively impact their lives. In the face of ever-increasing incidence of GBV - including that which is perpetrated against minors, in our view; polygamy will not address the problem, but rather exacerbate it.
It has been widely documented that one of the underlying causes of GBV is the persistence of patriarchal values that continue to undermine the rights of women and children in ways that encourage violence.
We therefore submit that GBV needs to be declared a national emergency that will be met with the political will and leadership that it demands. To increase the efficacy and reach of the response, we contend that a well-resourced multispectral approach, much like that which defined the success of HIV programming be adopted. This will enable us to identify and harness positive cultural practices to address GBV.
We further assert that a GBV Zero Tolerance campaign be conducted focusing on vulnerable populations such as People with Disabilities (PWD) and sex workers. In response to this pandemic, in order to facilitate access to justice and the expedient dispensation of GBV cases, it is imperative that specialized courts be established.
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