Botswana Gazette article response

In response to the following article published in The Botswana Gazette last week, there are several things in this article which I would like to clarify:

A poster I designed to highlight the issues of violence against Women in Botswana. Copyright Keshav Bhatt 2012

Being cornered into a room with 4/5 government officials, (one of them threatening to call the police) and being explicitly made to delete video footage is not how I would define request.

Don’t let their political language fool you – there was no polite exchanges or requests made. This was clearly an attempt – a successful one – on this occasion, to brush these issues under the carpet through very conscious scare tactics. They just don’t want the negative PR from this.

I have been in contact with Oorabile, one of your reporters, yet his response to my messages has been slow. So I’m not sure why you’ve said efforts to contact me were unsuccessful. You have my details. Please contact me before posting articles next time.

I already mentioned in two different posts on my blog, that I filmed without permission first, then on realising I needed permission, went about obtaining a permit. The footage I had recorded already was of interviews of two of the girls stories. I showed THIS to the NWDC thinking that perhaps we could spare the girls the emotional pain of interviewing again IF the NWDC agreed. It was NOT the ‘finished article’. I had all the relevant paperwork and release forms ready, and I have copies of these. The NWDC still rejected these, claiming “they don’t have parental consent”. Well of course they don’t – these girls are orphans, thats why a guardians signature was provided.

It is a real shame that instead of finding the girls I talked about in my blog (the NWDC knows their details) and helping them, some of these individuals working in the NWDC are more concerned with their job security than their responsibilities and duties.

There are two other people who were with me when those words were uttered by the Chief social worker, (not including the NWDC officials) who can verify that he made those insensitive comments. From speaking to other NGO’s, I also understand this is not the first time this poor attitude has surfaced.

Finally, if you want to bring the Childrens Act of 2009 into it. Read article 42-43 – it is a criminal offense not to report any child in need of protection or not to do anything for the child.

Regardless of all else, I would like to point out that whilst there were some officials who were uncaring, not all of them were. There were many people who really tried hard to help me with my cause, and I have faith that those people – the local people of Maun – will come through and help those girls who are being oppressed every day. It is important for us not to lose sight of this wider issue.

The Gender Based Indicators Study commissioned by the Government of Botswana in 2011 showed that throughout their lifetime 70% of women experience some form of abuse (whether sexual, physical, emotional or economical). Upto 30% of the female population experienced this in the last year alone.

Now, this is not a problem that women suddenly face in adulthood but from a very early age. And if there are currently NO shelters for these girls – Where do they have to go? Who will they turn to?

These questions are more important in the long run, than anything else. What if that was YOUR daughter, sister, cousin, friend?

For those who wish to help – my wonderful colleagues that I worked with at WAR (women against rape) will be able to point you in the right direction and tell you more on how to help. They are doing a great job in leading the battle against these injustices, and will be a key player in tackling them for many years to come. They can be found at www.facebook.com/warwomenagainstrape

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One response to “Botswana Gazette article response

  1. Hey! I have been reading your posts and blog, must say that I am proud of how you have been handling this documentary issue. The fact that they made you delete the footage didn’t stop you spreading and raising awareness about the issue, hopefuly the Ministry will start to take notice and do something. NWDC has gone too far with it’s corrupt ways, it sadens me that I was blinded to all these facts and it took a visitor from so far away from home for me to realise that all is not well with the girl child in Botswana. So, thank you for that and for not giving up on this cause… Really proud of you Kesh!

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