Celebrating International Women’s day at his residence on the 8th of March,French Ambassador to Botswana, Pierre Voillery said it was important to raise awareness to combat all forms of violence against both women and girls. He revealed that all over the world an alarming number of women and girls are abused at the hands of family members, partners, teachers and peers who grossly violate their rights, diminish their power, suppress their potential and humiliate them.
“This violence is exacerbated and reinforced by the multiple deprivations these victims face, including unequal access to education, skills, informations, sexual and reproductive health services and social and economic resources,” he said adding that a culture of impunity allows violence against them to continue unbated and conflict as well as humanitarian crises dramatically increase the risk of violence, abuse and exploitation.
In line with this year’s theme #BeBold- ForChange, Voillery said France has always defended women’s dignity and freedom and they cannot accept that women can be victims of ‘crimes of honour’ or mutilations. “This is why France has been working with the United Nations, particularly on the respect and implementation of The UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW),” he said.
France believes women and girls liberty, equality and dignity is not a cause for a single day in the year. It is an everyday fight to give girls and women knowledge, skills and resources to determine their own lives. “Together, we must create a world where violence against women and girls is never tolerated and girls are always empowered to reach their full potential,” Voillery said.
Letlhakane native and GBV survivor, Lentletse Ketlhaetse gave a testimonial during the Women’s Day gathering . Ketlhaetse who was housed with her two daughters at the Kagisano Womens Shelter in Gaborone shared that she, and her daughters where abused by her partner and she was unaware her children where facing the same troubles.
“I only realised that something was wrong when my children where not doing so well at school. When I questioned my eleven year old daughter she broke the silence and told me my partner who was her step father was abusing her sexually for some time,” she said. Ketlhaetse reported the matter to the Police and her partner was arrested for two weeks and released. “At this point I was scared as he promised to come back to kill us all. He torched down our house but with the grace of God we were saved. I was helpless and wanted to kill myself to save my children from this man whom I felt was after us because of me. It was during all this confusing time that my daughter suggested I run to Kagisano in Gaborone. She heard about the centre on tv.”
She says she had given up on life before she went through counseling at the centre and her children where bought school uniforms and taken back to school after the centre pressed the Police to arrest her partner who is currently behind bars.