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ABC women call for gender sensitive laws

 

Pascalinah Kabi

THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) Women’s League has urged legislators to enact gender sensitive laws that deter would-be perpetrators of violence against women.

In a statement issued this past week in commemoration of Women’s Month, the league said women were still vulnerable to various abuses such as witchcraft-related killings, rape and spousal violence among others.

August has been marked as African Women’s Month as a tribute to the more than 20 000 South African women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women.

The league said elderly women were among the most vulnerable members of society as they were unable to defend themselves.

“The killings of elderly women are shockingly increasing, with the latest fatality being that of a Ha Raliemere, Mafeteng granny who was accused of being a witch,” read the statement.

“Witchcraft is still a thorny issue in Lesotho and it is therefore our responsibility as a country to embark on sensitisation programmes to ensure that our people are enlightened.

“It is also important that we have laws meant to address this problem and we appeal to our parliamentarians to enact laws meant to address this challenge.”

“These challenges are even more adverse on women living with disability because of their special needs. Basotho women are no strangers to these challenges,” the statement further indicated, with the league applauding the charitable initiatives First Lady ‘MaIsiah Thabane had embarked on across the country to help those in need.

Among the charity initiatives Ms Thabane has done since her husband – Prime Minister Thomas Thabane – was inaugurated on 16 June 2017 include the construction of a house for a Berea granny living with her orphaned grandchildren.

Ms Thabane also celebrated African Women’s Month with over 100 grannies from Berea a fortnight ago by donating food parcels and heaters.

The statement further noted that women, children and old persons were living in fear due to the spectre of rape and killings perpetuated by husbands, grandchildren and friends.

The league called for harsher sentences for perpetrators as a deterrent.

“Rape is an inhumane act and a sin and therefore its sentence must be really harsh. If the convicted rapists are not given a death sentence, their sentencing must not be anything less than 25 years imprisonment.”

They also expressed solidarity with the wives of the late former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Lieutenant-General Maaparankoe Mahao, Mohau Qobete, Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko and Nteso and families of Lisebo Taaso and Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng.

Lt-Gen Mahao was shot dead on 25 June 2015 by his former army colleagues for allegedly resisting arrest over suspected mutiny.

Mohau Qobete, who was a security guard at the Ministry of Education offices in Maseru, was shot dead during a fight between LDF soldiers and Dr Thabane’s bodyguards in 2015. It is believed he was hit by a stray bullet.

While Sub-Inspector Ramahloko was shot dead on August 2014 in an army operation to disarm three Maseru police stations.

Mr Nteso, a slain Lesotho Electricity Company, was shot dead earlier this year in Maseru West while Ms Taaso was shot dead by members of the army near former army boss Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli’s home.

They also cited Dr Thabane’s slain wife, Lipolelo Thabane, who was gunned down by an unknown assailant on 14 June 2017.

The ABC women’s league said all these murders needed to be investigated and that suspects should be tried in the courts of law.

They also called on more women to get actively involved in politics and taking leadership roles in their political parties.

The league also asserted that women’s representation in both the parliament’s lower and higher houses was imperative for the enacting of gender sensitive laws that protected women against property grabbing, ensured equal inheritance for both girl and boy children and laws against gender-based violence.

 

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