Botswana: Marital rape case breaks new ground

Date: October 7, 2011
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Marital rape was one of the most contentious issues in the negotiations on the SADC Gender Protocol, with many countries resisting any explicit reference to it. Although Botswana is not a signatory to the Protocol, advocacy around it has paved the way for test cases and progressive legislation. A test case on marital rape in this socially conservative country during the reporting period is a major breakthrough.

On 2 December Magistrate Thabo Malambane issued an order interdicting a man from physically, verbally, sexually and emotionally abusing his wife of six years. This followed an urgent application restraining the man from going to his wife’s workplace and causing misconduct intended to embarrass and humiliate her.

In her affidavit in terms of Section 7, sub-section two of the Domestic Violence Act (2008), the mother of three girls aged nine, seven and five whose name could not be revealed as she is currently seeking refuge at a Woman’s Shelter, said that trouble started after she became pregnant in 2006. She stated that they decided to go for an HIV test together, where the husband was diagnosed as HIV positive, while she tested negative. She said following this turn of events her husband’s behaviour towards her changed dramatically.

“He started demanding to have unprotected sexual intercourse with me and I tried to make him understand that this was not a good idea, further that we had been advised by doctors that we should at all times use protection as this was crucial for our own health and well being,” she said.

She explained that she had told her husband that his constant demands to have unprotected sex with her would put her at risk of contracting HIV. “I wish to state that this marked the beginning of a turbulent relationship. He started abusing me physically, sexually, emotionally and verbally,” she said in her affidavit. She revealed that her husband would, despite her resistance to his risky sexual demands, proceed to force himself on her on many occasions since they learnt their status in 2006, the most recent being sometime in October and November 5, 2010.

She said every time this occurred she would move away from the matrimonial home to go and stay with her sister in Tlokweng but he would come and drag her from there demanding and threatening that if she does not return to their home he would burn down her sister’s house. “My sister has witnessed the said incidents,” she said.

The distraught woman further stated that sometime on or about October 2010, her husband went to her workplace and made suicidal threats that he was going to crash the car he was driving into the building but was prevented from executing his plan. She stated that following the incident, she reported the matter to Naledi Police Station and her husband was charged with common nuisance.

Her husband, she said started humiliating her by insulting and degrading her by constantly telling her that she could not satisfy him sexually and would also issue emotionally degrading profanities at her. He is said to have compared her to his female friends and to have added that she was an obstacle in his life.

“The situation at home is now affecting our children adversely and I now fear for their well-being as well,” she said adding that fearing for her life, she sought refuge at the Women’s Shelter on November 6, 2010 after he had physically assaulted her and forced himself on her without protection.

“His unreasonable behaviour is putting my life at risk of contracting the life threatening disease. I have and continue to suffer harm, not only physical wellbeing but psychological. I am fearful of what may happen to my life if he is allowed to continue abusing me,” she said. Her husband was also restrained from going to his wife’s sister’s house in Tlokweng. He was given until December 20, 2010 to give reason why the order should not be made final.

(Source: Article by Chandapiwa Baputaki;; 3 December 2010 (Vol. 27, No. 183).


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