Bonela Slams Tati Customary court President’s Utterances on Marital Rape

25 March 2009:
Bonela Slams Tati Customary court President’s Utterances on Marital Rape

The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV and AIDS (BONELA) strongly condemns recent statements made by the Tati Town Customary Court President Margaret Ludo Mosojane as reported in The Monitor of 23 March 2009 in which she alleged that young women were hoodwinking men into paying maintenance money by allowing themselves to get pregnant.

In the words of Mosojane, ‘young women should stop stealing children from the waist (s) of men’. She further averred that married women are bound to have sex with men whether they want to or not. The question BONELA would like to pose to the esteemed legislator is: which century is she living in? Women have since transcended their traditional roles of simply serving men, to become equal partners who contribute meaningfully to the family’s finances and well being. BONELA finds the statements extremely distasteful especially in light of HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections where it has become imperative to negotiate safe sex, both in and out of marriage.

According to her, marriage is a contractual agreement and women should avail themselves to their husbands’ desire, alluding that men’s sexual interests within marriage surpasses that of women. This statement degrades the position of women and also breaks communication within marriage by denying women the space and liberty to discuss their sexual reproductive health rights. Further, BONELA finds Masojane’s utterances to be a betrayal of the struggle for gender equality by placing the burden and responsibility of childbearing and birth control solely on women, which strategically absolves men from such responsibilities. In addition, her nullification of marital rape goes against the core concepts and strategies of eliminating gender based violence.ial of marital rape, has contributed to denial of justice for women. The wider implications are that women who have reason to fear exposure to HIV infection from their husbands are denied  post exposure prophylaxis which may give them a chance of not being infected by HIV. As a human rights organization, we fear that the statements made by the Court President serve to mislead not only the participants of the workshop, but the nation at large especially with regard to women’s sexual reproductive health rights. We would like to point out that factors such as gender-based violence undermine women’s ability to negotiate safer sex resulting in pregnancy.

BONELA believes that when opinion leaders make public statements on issues, they should be mindful not to apportion blame but rather empower the nation to change the status quo in a positive manner. Various stakeholders are counting on women in high level positions such as that of the Court President, to be at the forefront in the fight to eliminate Gender based violence and promote gender equality.