SKILLSHARE Lesotho has called on the government to urgently enact the Domestic Violence bill and Gender policy for the swift implementation of programmes that would help to tackle violence in the homes and deal with gender based inequality.
This emerged during last week’s event that marked the launch of the 16 days of Activism Against Gender -Based Violence. The global annual campaign starts on 25 November to 10 December, during when the world intensifies awareness raising on the need to eliminate all forms of gender based violence, particularly against women.
This global campaign originated from the Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the centre for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.
The campaign has over the years focused on gender-based violence, identified as one of the most serious human rights violations across the globe.
Gender specialists the world over have said gender-based violence can add serious devastating long-term consequences for victims, and as a result, this can damage their physical and mental health stability.
In an interview with the Sunday Express recently, the Skills Share Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, Peter Buyondo, said gender-based violence comes in various forms in the case of Lesotho.
“We have identified several problem areas, some of them structural and in need of solutions that include enacting laws that can strengthen the protection of women and girls in particular,” Mr Buyondo said.
He cited early marriages as a problem area that has caused many girls not to further their education and exposing them to challenges such as failure to access quality health and inability to make decisions due to unemployment.
High rates of HIV and AIDS among women, he said, was a cause for concern.
“The HIV prevalence among girls aged 15-19 years is 21.5 percent as compared to the 7.5 percent among boys of the same age and this shows the need for all actors to strengthen efforts aimed at protecting young women and ensuring access to treatment for the 21.5 percent living positively,” Mr Buyondo said.
He further explained that violence against women was a common, complex and consequential public health epidemic with statistics showing that one in three women in every culture and social group has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused in her lifetime.
This, Mr Buyondo said calls for multi-faceted approaches, wide and effective enough to reach women and men who are survivors of gender-based violence and ensure that nobody is left behind.
Also commenting on gender-based violence, Skills Share Social Inclusion and Gender Advisor, Mahlao Diaho, said Basotho should avoid normalizing gender-based violence, highlighting social-ills including children witnessing their parents fighting.
“Considering how gender-based violence negatively impacts socio-economic development, we strongly feel that it is about time that Lesotho has a Domestic Violence Act to support national programmes aiming to ensure gender equity. We would like to see actors including all government ministries, the civil society and the private sector strengthen a well-coordinated collaboration to end gender-based violence,” Ms Diaho said.
She further explained the need for adequate resources targeting programmes working to prevent gender-based violence and the establishment of more facilities where people recovering from mental and emotional trauma can be accommodated while receiving support.
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