The Okavango District is said to be experiencing an increase in reported cases of defilement, rape, incest, child neglect, and children in conflict with the law.
According to Okavango District Council (ODC) Chairman, Gaopalelwe Ronald there is currently a cumulative 203 pending cases.
Speaking during the just ended ODC full meeting, Ronald revealed that perpetrators of these cases are usually close family members, relatives and friends, who usually try to interfere by concealing information or trying to get the cases withdrawn. “In the process justice for the children is delayed,” the chairman complained.
“Escalating numbers of child sexual abuse cases are an indication that children are not safe in our families. Molested children get traumatized and find it very difficult to form meaningful relationships in future,” Ronald lamented.
He indicated that currently a total number of five children are housed at various places of safety as a result of unsafe family structures.
Ronald noted that the social protection department continues to collaborate with other stakeholders in educating the communities on Acts and policies in place as a way of raising awareness in addressing the social ills experienced in the communities.
Meanwhile, Shakawe East councilor Lesedi Boy who also expressed great concern over the increase of such cases is of the view that social ills against children start from the family structures and expand to the communities. He said it is therefore imperative to start rebuilding at home.
He further noted that there is need for further public education to raise awareness and teach the nation that perpetrators who sexually abuse children should be brought to book even when they are family members.
In efforts to combat escalating gender based violence countrywide the Botswana Police Service has created a gender based violence unit within its offices to ensure that the cases are given priority and victims are given much needed privacy.
In August last year First Lady Neo Masisi officiated at the launch of the second phase of the “E Seng Mo Ngwaneng” National Campaign in Shakawe, under the theme “End Sexual Exploitation and Abuse,”
The campaign, a collaborative effort between government and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) came following a growing concern over increasing incidences of violence against children, which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The second phase of the campaign sought to promote reporting of violence against children and advocate for cases of violence against children to be expedited at all levels.