Botswana-29th Session, January 2018-Violence against women / gender-based violence

National Report

Para 64) To further combat Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the context of health and HIV/AIDS, the Draft Comprehensive National Plan to Remove Human Rights and Gender Related Barriers to HIV and TB Services includes interventions aimed at reducing gender inequalities, harmful gender norms and gender-based violence. Government continues to collaborate with GBV service providers to reduce vulnerability to HIV and GBV.

Para 65) The Faith and Communities Initiative (FCI) – a PEPFAR supported program reached 66,269 men and boys across the programme interventions. In 2022, the FCI programme scaled up interventions to address stigma and non-adherence related to faith healing as well as harmful gender norms and practices which perpetuate the recently escalating gender-based violence cases.

Para 66) To eliminate stigma and discrimination, Government adopted a Broad-based Stigma and Discrimination Reduction approach. Initiatives include:

•             Awareness to reduce gender inequality;

•             Training and support of adolescents and young people (AYP) as well as faith-based organisations;

•             Community mobilisation and dialogues with traditional leaders;

•             Training of service providers and peer educators.

Para 67) The expected outcome of the above include:

•             Enhanced capacity for recognising and responding to GBV;

•             Enhanced capacity for provision of psycho-social support;

•             Rapid response and referral for monitoring and responding to human rights violations;

Para 102) The Botswana Police Service has a training module on gender-based violence for pre-service and in-service officers. This facilitates officers’ competence in appropriately dealing with GBV. In addition, all district police stations have a gender focal person responsible for ensuring correct handling of GBV cases such as obtaining statements from GBV victims or survivors in private rooms.

Para 103) With respect to health care providers, there is a comprehensive national plan (2019-2024) to remove human rights and gender related barriers to HIV and TB services. This plan includes interventions to train and capacitate police to collaborate with CSO and health care providers to respond to GBV.

Para 111) To ensure that women continue to enjoy their full human rights, Government established the National Gender Commission to monitor implementation of the National Policy on Gender and Development which emphasises gender mainstreaming across sectors. In addition, the Commission monitors the environment to ensure that women and men equally access the socio-economic, cultural and political opportunities in the Country. Furthermore, Government established the High Level Inter-Ministerial Committee on GBV to guide the National GBV Response. Establishment of District Gender Committees also continues and a total of thirteen (13) committees were established during the reporting period.

Para 119) Government continues to implement laws which criminalize domestic violence and provide survivors of domestic violence with protection. These include the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana, the Penal Code, the Domestic Violence Act and the Married Persons Property Act. Government also subvents CSOs which provide safe havens for women who are victims of violence.

Para 120) The following measures are implemented by the Botswana Police Service in the fight against GBV:

•             Developing competencies of police officers in handling cases;

•             Provision of psycho-social support and counselling to victims;

•             Collaboration with other stakeholders and referral systems;

•             Use of informers;

•             Appointment of Gender Focal Point Persons;

•             Community Policing (bringing on board the community to assist in policing;

•             Community out-reach programmes (public education);

•             Anti-GBV campaigns.

Para 121) In an effort to curb the prevalence of GBV incidents and on improving programmes tailor made to prisoners, in September 2021 the Service launched the “Gender Based Violence Perpetrators Programme”. The programme is specifically designed to rehabilitate offenders of GBV and related offences.

Para 122) The Government of Botswana remains committed to implementing all her International, Continental and Regional human rights obligations, which are domesticated through laws and policies to ensure that women and men fully and equally enjoy their human rights. To this end, Government continues to adopt new laws and establish human rights protection institutions. Examples include the Sexual Offenders Registry Act (2021), the Inter-Ministerial Committee on GBV (2021) and the Special Courts for GBV (2020).

Para 123) Government has prioritised the GBV response and the following measures, among others, have been put in place to combat GBV:

•             The Sexual Offenders Registry Act was adopted in 2021;

•             The Gender and Child Protection Branch established in the Botswana Police Service,

•             Specialised GBV Courts were set up;

•             The High Level Inter-Ministerial Committee on GBV was established.

Para 149) Botswana Police Service continues to apply scientific methods in its crime management mandate. As a result, more cases of GBV, sexual assaults and murder have been detected. Further, the role of science has enhanced management of investigations related to missing persons and unknown deceased persons by application of International Standards and practices.

State under Review
Stakeholder Summary

Para 54) Referring to relevant supported recommendations from the previous review relating to gender-based violence, AI stated that the situation for women had continued to deteriorate with violence against women reaching endemic levels. JS3 stated that in response to drastic increases in gender-based violence in 2020 at the height of the lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, special courts had been set-up to handle gender-based violence cases, but that long-term orientated efforts were needed to decrease awaiting time for trials. It also stated that Botswana had involved traditional leaders in its efforts to combat gender-based violence and that under the leadership of the local government, Dikgosi,  a national action plan on gender-based violence was being developed, containing a training curriculum on gender-based violence for Dikgosi. It considered relevant supported recommendations from the previous review to have been partially implemented.

Para 55) JS3 stated that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender women had been excluded from the discourse on gender-based violence, and noted the absence of law specifically addressing homophobic rape and violence experienced by these women.

Para 56) JS1 recalled that at the previous review, three recommendations relating to marital rape had not enjoyed the support of Botswana but that a recommendation relating to the punishment of perpetrators of sexual violence against women and girls had enjoyed the support of Botswana, which JS1 considered to be a contradiction and reflective of the legal siltation in the country. Although marital rape formed part of the continuum of violence against women and girls, it was not considered a crime, which negatively impacted the ability of married persons who experienced sexual violence to access to justice and other human rights such the right to personal security, to bodily autonomy and to health.

Para 58) JS2 stated that for adolescent girls, sexual gender-based violence manifests itself in child marriage, defilement, and rape.

UN Compilation

Para 67) The HR Committee expressed concern about the high level of violence, including sexual and domestic violence, against women and children, which had significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also concerned about the fact that marital rape and sexual violence were not recognized as criminal offences in domestic legislation and about the insufficient protection and support afforded to victims of domestic violence and their families.