GBV, plight of the girl child in Lesotho

GBV, plight of the girl child in Lesotho

Date: March 26, 2018
  • SHARE:

By Manteboheleng Mabetha

Maseru, 23 March: Lerato (22) went through the trauma of being raped by her father at the age of 13 until he was caught when she was aged 15. The discovery was made because she fell pregnant by her father then. “My father was arrested but I was left with a child and there was no money for us. I repeated Form B three times, not because I was not smart enough but because I was always not allowed to sit for the examinations due to lack of school fees”.

Mpho (17), was married at the age of 15 not because she was in love with her husband but because she was scared that she was pregnant. “My husband was a herder for our neighbour, he used to come to our house and one day he found me alone in the house and raped me. I was so scared I could not tell anybody about this. When I told one of my friends she told me that I must be pregnant. When I told him about what my friend said he then took me to his home and married me.”

These stories collected from the Baseline Study on El-Nino Linked Gender-Based Violence in the Ten Districts of Lesotho   are the typical stories of young girls who suffer gender based violence in Lesotho. Many more of such stories remain untold as girls suffer in silence in the hands of people that they trust.

As we celebrated International Women‘s Day with a theme #PressforProgress on 8 March deeper thinking of what progress means for women in Lesotho where GBV statistics are very high and where the HIV prevalence is increasing among young women.

Despite the good intentions of these global campaigns, the violence perpetrated against women and girls still continues to be a problem in Lesotho. Violence against women has been normalised. On a daily basis women and girls are faced with GBV ranging from physical, economic, sexual and emotional abuse.

For young girls like Lerato/ Mpho what then does progress mean? Progress in Lesotho for many women and girls should mean:

  • Knowing about their rights and having legal frameworks to protect those rights.
  • Knowing that the Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights are protected.
  • Not living in fear of being raped, assaulted and killed.
  • Not being married at a young age.
  • Being free to life without fear in a country where GBV does not exist.

This calls for the engagement of leaders of this country to become accountable and engage in measures to end GBV. The senseless killings of the girls, the raping and marrying girls at the young age that happen in our societies can be a thing of the past if all community members take action. Yes we can end GBV working hand in hand, community by community.

Gender Links Lesotho through its justice programme has several projects aimed at reducing the levels of GBV and empowering women. One of the projects that GL is working on is the development of the GBV smart phone app that is designed to teach women about their rights and services available for GBV. This is because there is general lack of awareness on issues relating to GBV. This is done in partnership with Participatory for Social Accountability (PISA) and is funded by GIZ Lesotho. The app is meant inform women about their rights and available services with regard to GBV and to provide a safe online space for women to share experiences and network.  The app has been tested in three districts with over 50 women to gather their feedback and further ideas on the features and content. It is still being further developed and once it is completed it will be available for women who own a smart phone.

Manteboheleng Mabetha is Gender Links Lesotho Country Manager This article is part of the GL news and blogs service.

Comment on GBV, plight of the girl child in Lesotho

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *