- Delay in disposing cases make victims feel like prisoners
- Perpetrators on the other hand enjoy normal life while on bail
- GBV cases need quicker processes to close them
The delay in disposing cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) by the courts has negative effects on the victims who end up overstaying in safety shelters awaiting the closure of their cases and end up feeling like prisoners in those facilities while their alleged perpetrators enjoy bail, and living their normal lives.
This observation has made by Women Against Rape (WAR), a human rights organization based in Maun which also provides temporary shelter to GBV victims for safety.
The organization which primarily offers services to women, children and men has since extended its services across the country. Besides providing safety shelter, it also provides socio-physiological support and empowers the victims.
Being sheltered at WAR means the victim is temporarily being cut out of the outside world, no means of communication with the outside world and access to social media whilst they are still receiving support and advocacy for legal reforms. However, since cases take years to be resolved this reportedly leaves victims in a depressing situation and feeling stuck in the shelter while perpetrators on the other hand are enjoying their freedom.
In an interview, WAR Shelter Manager Gaoganetswe Mosimanegape revealed that they are facing a serious challenge of having to keep victims at the shelter for a longer period which was not agreed on during their placement. She highlighted that they have had a child staying in the shelter from September 2020 to June 2022 adding that they are currently housing another child who came in, in August 2021.
“Issues of GBV that involve children are treated as urgent matters and have to be treated in a matter of urgency, however that is not happening as cases are prolonged leading to the victims stay in the shelter for an extended period,” Mosimanegape complained.
He highlighted that such cases take five to ten years to be resolved and if one is lucky their case may take about two years.
Mosimanegape noted that though the shelter is an emergency safe place for victims she however expressed worry that overstaying of victims inside depresses them adding that some even vent out on why their abusers are on the streets while they (victims) are in a shelter and cannot live normal lives out there.
“Instead of focusing on empowering victims we are subjected to deal with counselling them and helping them cope with their prolonged stay in the shelter,” Mosimanegape revealed.
Meanwhile Maun Police Leader of Gender and Child Protection Unit Sub-Inspector Segopolo Lefatshe explained that issues of GBV tend to take longer than they should because they are registered before courts like any other cases and end up lining up without them being prioritised.
“We need special courts for such issues in order to give them their deserved priority subsequently avoid overstaying of victims in safety shelters,” Lefatshe said.
He also noted that issues such as those of sexual abuse need thorough investigations and evidence to prove the accused person’s guilt to avoid issues of acquitted cases and let preparators roam the streets violating other possible victims.