Girls In Okavango Sexually Abused For Rituals

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  • Traditional doctors encouraging the practice
  • Fathers also sexually abuse their own daughters desperate for riches
  • Incidents happening within families and kept as a family secret
  • Over 22 rape cases, four of incest and another four of sexual abuse registered in Okavango this year

Shocking findings from a community dialogue between Women Against Rape (WAR) and communities in the Okavango area on Gender Based Violence (GBV) has revealed that young girls in the area are subjected to sexual abuse for ritual purposes.

This was revealed by WAR Social Worker and Head of Department (Psycho-social support and counselling, Emergency Safe house) James Baleseng who indicated that the dialogue was conducted last year in Gumare, Shakawe and Seronga villages.

The practice is however said to be a thing of the past in Seronga but still prevalent in Gumare and Shakawe. It is said to be happening behind closed doors hence the culprits are not brought before the law.

Baleseng revealed that during the engagement, disturbing comments from some community members emerged that there are some elderly men who sexually abuse underage children including their own daughters for ritual practices. According to him, the perpetrators are usually sold the idea by traditional doctors promising them that the ritual will enrich them.

“Residents were however sceptical to give more information on the matter as most incidents are happening within families and kept a family secret,” Baleseng revealed. He indicated that the practice is mostly influenced by greed from parents and other family members.

Baleseng expressed concerned that such practices exposes children to teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Okavango region has this year registered over 22 cases of rape, four cases of incest and four case of sexual abuse. During this school term about 20 underage students at Shakawe Senior School are currently pregnant.

The Social Worker has however assured that through public education the organisation will raise awareness and make sure that the girl child is protected against various practices that violate their rights.

He explained that the purpose of the dialogue was one of the organisation’s efforts to promote community advocacy around GBV. It was also meant to encourage community members and opinion leaders to collectively discuss their concerns, exchange ideas, and develop key messages that promote safe, healthy, and productive life choices for families and communities.

WAR is a human rights organization based in Maun which primarily supports abused women, men and children to address issues that contribute to GBV. It also gives shelter to GVB victims who the environment they are living in is not conducive.  

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