BOFWA Join Hands With The Media In a Fight Against Gender Based Violence

Khumoetsile Magonare: Mmegi Freelancer

The Botswana Family Welfare Association (BOFWA) is working hand in hand with the media in mapping a wayfoward in the fight to promote sexual reproductive health information and fight against gender based violence.

The BOFWA Programmes Manager Ms Senzeni Makhwaje mentioned that the forced marriages, forced abortions, rape and assault are the most common gender based violence in Botswana. She said that BOFWA broke the ground for key providers of education in reproductive health of women especially young women. In addition to this, the young generation is not knowledgeable about issues of HIV/AIDS. They also offer HIV testing as well as counseling.

BOFWA’s mandate is to make all the services they offer like family planning (contraceptives and counseling), HIV/AIDS counseling are among the best to be accessible to all the young people in Botswana. The youth are mobilized to be part of these programs and services which are meant for them in curbing the unwanted pregnancies and HIV infection.

“Women abuse can be in form of body shaming, women shaming in their sense of style as well”, said Makhwaje.

Makhwaje also mentioned that the sexual reproductive health is a right of a woman and that discrimination of sex workers leads to inadequacy in screening and access to condom use and collection. She also lamented that the unsafe abortion cases put the lives of Batswana in danger as proved by the 15% that die during childbirth due to unsafe abortion practices.

There are various youth programmes that give young people a platform to exercise their rights and responsibilities in the decision making programmes. These young people register as volunteers and are given training in being the Ambassadors of change.

In one of the African incidents a journalist cum activist, Mark mentioned that teenage pregnancy is high in Kenya and most of the school girl’s breastfed during exam time. “In one of the schools of 57 pupils, 34 are girls and 23 are boys and about 24 girls were having exams and breastfeeding too, “said Mark.

The Kenyan activist also mentioned that as a tool to fight gender based violence, the initiative called “Right by Her”, has been implemented to stand against the sexual abuse of women; as most cases are of rape, forced intercourse or issues of incest and early marriages. He also mentioned that the main idea of the “Right by Her” movement is to promote the implementation of the gender and sexual reproductive health policies in African countries to protect a girl child.

Therefore the media especially print journalism has been urged to join the”’ movement in writing more about these issues faced by African women so that people can be aware and be able to do activism in empowering a girl child. The Right by Her movement also prompts men to be supportive and protective of a girl child rather than causing pain to their lives.

The information should be clear in pamphlets especially reaching out to young people and more workshops and training should be done in partnership with the media to accelerate the change in gender based violence said Sunday Standard reporter Ruth.

As quoted in an African woman report Gender-based violence against women refers to all the acts perpetrated against women which cause or could cause them physical, sexual, psychological, and economic harm, including the threat to take such acts; or to undertake the imposition of arbitrary restrictions on or deprivation of fundamental freedoms in private or public life in peace time and during situations of armed conflicts or of war’, and concerns ‘violence that is directed against women because she is a woman or that affects women while Sexual violence means ‘any non-consensual sexual act, a threat or attempt to perform such an act, or compelling someone else to perform such an act on a third person. These acts are considered as non-consensual when they involve violence, the threat of violence, or coercion. Coercion can be the result of psychological pressure, undue influence, detention, abuse of power or someone taking advantage of a coercive environment, or the inability of an individual to freely consent. This definition must be applied irrespective of the sex or gender of the victim and the perpetrator, and of the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator.

In conclusion African countries have been prompted to reform laws that criminalize exposure, non-disclosure and/or willful transmission of HIV, in recognition of the rights of people living with HIV to non-discrimination. In addition the African countries should ensure full, free and informed consent in access to SRH services and information, so that women and girls cannot be denied SRH services nor forced to take a specific treatment, based on either mandatory HIV testing or HIV positive in standing Right By Her.