25th November is the International Day Against Violence Against Women and marks the start of the worldwide campaign of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV). The end of the 16 days cumulates in International Human Rights Day on 10th December.
The campaign focuses on raising awareness around GBV. By supporting local initiatives working in the field. As well as building unity, so that all may stand together to fight the threat of violence.
Many years ago, before children became my main focus, I worked for a Women’s Aid Organisation in the UK. I supported families affected by GBV and saw the impact their experiences had on their lives.
I saw so many eye-opening cases. Women who’d be beaten, threatened, had children removed from the family home and had to relocate their whole lives. But the more I saw, the more I realised how common it is. How GBV crosses countries, social circumstances, age, religion, race and profession.
A Different Kind Of Pandemic
The truth is, 1 in 3 women will experience some sort of physical or sexual violence in their lives. This is a Global Pandemic of a different sort. Whilst we acknowledge that men can also suffer violence and abuse, women still bear the brunt of violence both in and out of the home.
In Botswana, over 67% of women have experienced abuse, which is over double the global average.
This is why we need to have conversations about this. For our friends, for our family, for our sisters, daughters, cousins and for ourselves. With a statistic like 1 in 3, the chances are someone you love has already been affected by GBV.
We need to talk about it so we can protect our children and raise a generation who are non-violent and have empathy for others.
Looking for Signs of GBV
Gender-based violence is often still shrouded in shame and denial, which makes it hard to spot, hard for sufferers to ask for help and hard to heal from.
Gender Based Violence in the home environment can take many forms. It may involve physical, sexual, verbal, financial or emotional abuse. GBV doesn’t always just occur between partners in a sexual relationship either. It may be between parents and adult children, cohabitors or other adult relationships.
Here are some of the signs that may signal there’s a problem:
- Withdrawal from family, friends and social events.
- Constant anxiety about time or needing to check in with someone.
- Unexplained injuries, bruises or marks.
- Partner is verbally abusive in front of others.
- Changes in personality, showing signs of anxiety or depression.
- Making excuses about other people’s behaviour.
- Partner is jealous or possessive.
- Children in the home show signs of stress and anxiety.
How Can I Help?
Supporting a friend who’s experiencing gender-based violence can often leave you feeling powerless, frustrated, and confused. You want to help but you don’t know what to do for the best.
Here are a few ways you can be a support and ally to a friend who’s experiencing abuse or struggling in a relationship.
- Set up a quiet time to talk openly, let them know you are concerned.
- Encourage them to get help from agencies such as the Police or …….
- Keep in touch regularly. Notice if something changes or seems concerning.
- Don’t shame, blame or coerce somebody to do something. Any action taken has to be their decision alone.
- Offer a listening ear and support in their decisions. Be there for the long journey, not everything has a quick fix.
- Offer specific help to reduce stress, such as watching their children, taking them to an appointment or cooking a meal.
- Help to make a safety plan. If things get worse, what can they do and who can they call?
- Look after yourself. You aren’t in a position to help others if you take on their problems. Be kind and compassionate to yourself as well as others.
Local Initiatives In Support of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence In Botswana
Botswana Gender-Based Violence Prevention And Support Centre (Gaborone)
This is a non-profit organisation which aims to raise awareness about gender-based violence in Botswana. They offer holistic services that include:
Survivor Index Counselling to families and children. They extend counselling to alleged perpetrators of GBV.
Drop-In Centres where clients can come for both scheduled and unscheduled counselling. Counsellors provide individual counselling and couple’s counselling. As well as counselling for children. At the DIC, counsellors also refer clients to other services including police, medical aid, legal aid, employment opportunities, and education registration.
Temporary Shelter for women and their children who are looking to escape abusive home environments. The shelter has the capacity to house 16 clients at any given time and clients from all over the country are served. During their stay, clients are provided with 24-hour on-site support, counselling, survival skills training, employment assistance, and referrals to other services as needed.
Clinical Services for survivors of rape or sexual assault. Victims that report within 72 hours have access to:
I. Emergency Contraceptives
II. Post-Exposure Prophylaxis
III. HIV Testing and Counselling
IV. Sexual Transmitted Infection Screening and treatment
V. Family Planning Services
VI. Psychosocial support and counselling
The Clinic is located at Broadhurst Ext. 19 Tshimotharo Plot 6062/3.
Contact: 390 7659/74 265 081 or send Help to 16510.
WoMen Against Rape (Maun)
W. A. R is a human rights organisation that supports women and men, boys and girls. Addressing issues that contribute to their abuse Their services include:
Silent Courage Wednesdays is a space where W.A.R encourages the Maun Community to come together through poetry. music and artistic expressions of love and laughter to address GBV issues. Their hope is to raise enough funds for more GBV support centers in the Delta. WhatsApp +267 71 790 684 for more information. They also provide
- Safe House
- Community Education and Activism
- Research and Advocacy
Contact: 71 311 244
Psychosocial Support For Victims of Gender-Based Violence In Botswana
Psychosocial support are actions that address both the psychological and social needs of individuals, families and communities. Here are a few affiliate contacts for psychosocial support that we got from Independent Counseling and Advisory Services (ICAS) Botswana.
Contact: 75 526 488
Contact: 73 888 898
Contact: 72 131 259
Men and Boys For Gender Equality
This NGO engages men and boys to reduce gender inequalities, GBV, prevent HIV and promote health & well being of Women, Men and Children.
This year they are hosting The GBV Activism Awards. Open to individuals, organisations and communities that are conducting activities throughout the 16 Days of Activism Against GBV.
To enter, document and submit all activism efforts through film and photography. For more information on categories and illegibility contact 395 7763 or 72 451 171.
Botswana Police Services
The Botswana Police Service is encouraging Batswana to unite against gender-based violence in Botswana. In their efforts, they have provided a toll-free number where they offer help and support to victims.
Toll Free Number: 0800 600 144
Children’s Education Resources On Gender-Based Violence In Botswana
Rati And Friends
Rati Botswana uses learn and play to support difficult conversations about GBV in a language that’s age-appropriate for children.
Rati and her Friends believe that boys can grow up to be super good men and that boys will be what they are taught to be.
So, they have provided some insightful questions for parents and children to guide conversations on what it means to become a responsible man.
My Body/Mmele O Wame
This booklet is available for P20 and explains sexual abuse to children in both English and Setswana.
The booklet includes the Children’s Act, explains private parts and scenarios that children and adults must be wary of.
It can be used by parents, caregivers and teachers to start conversations about sexual abuse in children. And what to do in different scenarios.
Our hope is that from this year forward, we will start to see less men, women and children fall victim to gender-based violence in Botswana. Please share this with a friend or family member who needs support. Or anyone currently offering support to a loved one affected by GBV.