Sexual abuse of schoolgirls widespread in Botswana

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Minister Tebelelo Seretse

«Since HIV/AIDS has no cure, being raped is akin to being sentenced to death.»

Tebelelo Seretse

Botswana Gazette /, 11 March - Minister of Commerce and Industry, Ms. Tebelelo Seretse, made strong statements on the tough action needed on rape in Botswana at a conference held in Gaborone last week. She especially addressed the police to take stronger action to protect women and rape vicitims.

- Hopefully gone are the days when rape victims will have to wait for hours for a doctor and being told not to wash, when all they want to do is wash, because they feel "dirty" after being raped. Hopefully gone are the days when evidence is not shown by torn clothes. Hopefully gone are the days when the victim has to describe in detail and graphically the feelings she experienced during the traumatising ordeal. And hopefully gone are the days when the rape victim is blamed for having enticed a "poor man without capacity". 

These are the wishes of Minister of Commerce and Industry Ms. Tebelelo Seretse. She was speaking at the official opening of the National Conference on the Findings and Recommendations of the Study on Rape in Botswana, held in Gaborone on Monday. 

At a conference, mainly attended by older men, to discuss how best they can deal with the ill that has developed in Botswana's peaceful society, Ms Seretse said Batswana are asking themselves what has gone wrong with the male population that they cannot exercise the restraint required of decent people, adding that the issue of HIV/AIDS makes the issue of rape even more painful.

- Since we know that HIV/AIDS has no cure, being raped is akin to being sentenced to death, Seretse said. She cautioned that the sooner marital rape becomes a criminal offence the better. Giving a vote of thanks at the conference, SADC Senior Programme Officer - Gender, Dr. Ataliah Molokomme, referred to the words of the Minister, saying gone are the days when marriage took away women's rights over their reproductive health. 

She called on the Police and other stakeholders to take action because there has been a number of studies on rape in Botswana, though a little has been achieved. She cited studies undertaken by Professor Bojosi Otlhogile, Emang Basadi, herself and the students of the University Of Botswana, and said though recommendations are the same, there is very little implementation. 

Dr. Mazonde said though medical reasons for rape are unclear, there are cases where rapists have psychological problems, brain problems and or are sadists - people who get sexual pleasure from seeing other people suffer, especially of the opposite sex. He said the keeping of HIV positive rapists in prison should be questioned, because there are chances of them infecting others where sodomy can occur. 

He warned that there are high chances of opportunistic infections like tuberculosis spreading where there is overcrowding. He said prison alone was not a remedy to rape, especially rapists have medical problems. Mr. Acquah-Dadzie said efforts through proper authorities should be obtained for HIV positive inmates to be grouped together to avoid contact with other "innocent" prisoners to whom this disease may be passed through sodomy " which I reliably learnt is wide-spread in the prisons". 

The Commissioner of Police Mr. Norman Moleboge said the current plan of the Prisons Department to let some prisoners serve the rest of their terms outside prison, was counter productive. He said there is a great imbalance that exists between the Prisons, the Police and the Magistrates. "We are working in isolation and no one seems to care about what the other is doing, though our aim is to fight crime," he said. 

Based on article in The Botswana Gazette

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