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Drought triggers rape, sexual harassment of girls in Quthing

Limpho Sello

THE El Nino induced drought experienced in the 2018/19 rainy season has triggered an upsurge in rape and sexual harassment cases in Quthing.

The drought has exposed girls to serious risks as they must walk long distances away from home in search of portable water.

This was revealed by participants at the Lesotho Red Cross Society (LSRC) initiated child protection mainstreaming programmes aimed at encouraging children to advocate for their peers whose rights are infringed in different ways.

Protection mainstreaming is the process of incorporating protection principles and promoting meaningful access, safety and dignity in humanitarian aid.

The project has been running from February 2019 and children who have been trained and provided with psycho social support by the LRCS recently gathered at the Institute of Development and Management (IDM) offices in Maseru. They discussed issues of child marriages, trafficking of persons, gender based violence (GBV) and other violations. The discussions were supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Speaking at the dialogue child advocate Siyabonga Tsanyane from Quthing said the 2018/19 El Nino induced drought has triggered challenges of rape and sexual harassment due to the lack of water in the villages.

Tsanyane said in Quthing most villagers depend of springs and wells for water but most are drying up and girls, who are often responsible for fetching water have to go far from their homes. He has seen some girls being raped while other have been abducted by older men for marriage.

“We have also been exposed family conflicts which end divorces and such situations leave children vulnerable,” Tsanyane said.

“In some instances, the challenges affect the children’s wellbeing as they live in unstable homes while some children drop out of school.”

Reitumetse Masite added that children have also become vulnerable to human trafficking as their parents and guardians resort to seeking jobs far from home leaving them unattended.

She said the children are also exposed to other forms of abuse which are often perpetrated by close relatives or friends.

Selloane Mohapi said the LRCS equipped them on how and where to seek help when they face challenges. She said they learnt that children should seek interventions from community leaders, relevant government ministries and partners as well as police stations.

“We now know the importance of youth clubs where we are able to discuss our challenges, advise one another on how we can overcome our situations,” Ms Mohapi said.

For his part, Ha-Ramabanta Chief, Masupha Api, thanked the LRCS for educating community leaders on the roles that they can also play to fight for and protect the rights of children in their communities.

Chief Api said previously, the public only sought help from the police instead of approaching them as they are closer. He added that with the assistance from the LRCS, they can now provide psychosocial support to child victims of abuse.

LRCS secretary seneral Kapano Masilo said they have partnered with United Nations (UN) agencies like UNICEF to address child protection mainstreaming.

Mr Masilo said in the project, their focus is to address the challenges faced by young people in the form of empowerment, participation and education instead of food handouts.

Mr Masilo said to respond to issues that affected children in the aftermath of the El Nino induced drought, his organisation afforded youths psychosocial support in five districts in the southern parts of the country where 1850 people were educated on how to handle humanitarian emergencies.

He added that during the six months, they recorded 77 case of GBV in the five districts in which the LRCS worked.

“So, you can imagine how rampant the cases are in other districts and other villages that we did not cover.

“We also discovered that 90 boys and girls were separated from their parents because of work where the children were left to head the families,” Mr Masilo said.

He said to address the challenges they have started 73 protection committees that were formed by community leaders to provide counselling and support where there is need.

 

 

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One Comment

  1. Hi
    There were an a article about the murders of the elderly on sunday , where csn i find it please .

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