Over two thirds of women in Botswana (67%) have experienced some form of gender violence in their lifetime including partner and non-partner violence. A smaller, but still high, proportion of men (44%) admit to perpetrating violence against women.
Nearly one third of women (29%) experienced Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in the 12 months to the prevalence survey that formed the flagship research tool in this study. In contrast, only 1.2% of Batswana women reported cases of GBV to the police in the same period. Thus the prevalence of GBV reported in the survey is 24 times higher than that reported to the police.This suggests that levels of GBV are far higher than those recorded in official statistics and that women have lost faith in the very systems that should protect them as well as offer redress.
Patriarchal attitudes are a significant underlying factor driving the incidence of GBV in Botswana. While women and men affirm gender equality in the public domain this has not translated in their private lives particularly in their intimate relationships.
While the findings from the survey and police data show that GBV is the most flagrant violation of human rights in Botswana at the present time, only 6% of the 188 speeches by politicians over the last year focused on GBV while 9% made some mention of the scourge. Only 5% of monitored news articles from Botswana covered GBV and in these perpetrators were three times more likely than to be heard than survivors. The media still reports on GBV in sensational ways that trivialise the experiences of women.
These are among the key findings of the GBV Indicators Research Project in Botswana undertaken by Gender Links and the Women’s Affairs Department (WAD).