With close to 100 cases reported between March and October only
At least 86 cases of domestic violence, and particularly violence against women were reported in the country where 14 women were killed this year alone in the period spanning March to October, reports indicate.
According to the Programmes Director of Women and Law Southern Africa (WLSA) Advocate ‘Mamosa Mohlabula-Nokana, the said statistics only cover the cases they had managed to catch wind of or those reported to them.
Speaking at the event of Policy Dialogue between Adolescent Girls and Young Women and Policy Decision Makers in Maseru this week, Adv Mohlabula-Nokana indicated that the said women killed by the men in their lives, be theyhusbands or boyfriends.
“The work of the organization on these kinds of criminal cases is to transfer them to the police while also ensuring that all necessary investigations are conducted for every case so that perpetrators will have their day in court,” said Adv Mohlabula-Nokana.
She further indicated that although they work very hard so that cases have their day in court the biggest challenge is that there is backlog of cases in courts of law.
“Currently we have a huge backlog of cases more especially at this time of Covid-19 such that there are high numbers of sexual abuses, femicide cases, and high intimate partner abuse cases as well as high numbers of divorce cases during this time. Only on divorce cases canone say there was some progress, all other cases are backlogs and we have started setting them for 2025,” she said.
She also pointed to the other challenge being the medical form which needs to be filled in reporting cases of sexual abuse to the police, where she indicated that it is a norm for such to be filled by the police officers whereas they are supposed to be filled by the police in part for the part about criminal activity and the rest by medical practitioners upon completion of revenant examinations.
Meanwhile, on the other hand, MotšelisiMpapa a nurse stationed in Maputsoe who specialises on adolescent health indicated how adolescents do reports to health centers after being sexually abused but that most do not open cases.
“Adolescents do report to health centers for medical assistance after being sexually assaulted, but sometimes you will find that the same victims do not want to press charges against the perpetrators. So all that results in so many cases that are not reported. You will find that they do undergo medical examination but when are told of steps to follow in opening a case, they are not interested and normally say ‘I just wanted to medical help I do not want to press charges’” she explained.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Gender and Youth, Sport and Recreation Likeleli Tampane on International Day against Gender-Based Violence and the Launch of the Gender and Development Policy 2018-2030 indicated that, Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in “our country today, surrounded by silence, stigma and shame. The adverse psychological, sexual and reproductive health consequences of violence against women and girls affect women and girls more than men and boys at all stages of their life.
“Violence against women and girls, continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace as well as an obstacle to the fulfillment of women’s and girls’ human rights. All in all, the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – to leave no one behind – cannot be fulfilled without putting an end to violence against women and girls. If not tackled, as directed by the Gender and Development Policy 2018-2030 hunger and poverty will not be eradicated, unemployment and diseases will increase,” she said.
Tampane added that, COVID-19 touched and continues to touch lives in nearly every way, everywhere, from when “we went into lockdown and restricted movement, to containing the spread of the virus. As doors closed and isolation began, reports of all forms of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence sky rocketed.
“The Gender and Development Policy moves that any program touching lives of women of reproductive age should take into consideration their strategic and practical gender equality needs including meeting their reproductive health needs at program level through ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health information and services,” she said.
On the other hand, Chief Seeiso Bereng Seeiso the Principal Chief of Matsieng on the same launch stated that, the launch, happened during the scourge of COVID – 19 coupled with HIV and AIDS that are both fueled by gender-based violence.
“The Gender and Development Policy 2018 – 2030 calls for the engendering of the political agenda that manifests in overall governance – in the legislative, judicial and executive systems as well as in major sectorial policies and programs. This manifestation should be a result of dialogue through which the public sector incorporates mechanisms and processes which citizens especially women and vulnerable people can articulate their interests, mediate their differences and exercise their rights and obligations through,” he said. f