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Stop women abuse

IN this edition we carry two sad stories by two women.
One is an orphan living in a Thaba-Tseka while the other says she is a fourth year accounting student at the National University of Lesotho (NUL).
The woman from Thaba-Tseka tells a horrific story of how she was raped and had her womb removed by her attacker.
The one from NUL tells a story of how she has had to wait for another year to complete her degree because she was failed by a lecturer whose advances she spurned.
The Thaba-Tseka story is horrifying and the one from NUL is sickening.
In terms of enormity the two stories are incomparable.
The NUL student has resisted the pressure from her lecturer and is likely to graduate.
The woman from Thaba-Tseka has had her life ruined forever.
She will carry with her the scars of her brutal attack for life.
Yet the two stories reflect the trials and tribulations Basotho women still face.
They show that women in this country are still suppressed and subjugated.
A nation can only ignore such stories at its own peril.
When the powers-that-be in Lesotho talk about the emancipation of women they like to use lofty examples.
They will point out that Lesotho has a relatively high number of women in top government jobs, parliament, local government councils and the cabinet.
That is good publicity for Lesotho.
The problem however is that despite this seemingly modest progress the majority of the women in this country are still downtrodden.
Lesotho is still a deeply patriarchal society.
Its laws still favour men.
Take the inheritance and chieftainship laws, for example. It is disturbing that in the 21st century Lesotho still has laws that treat women like second class citizens.
The lives of women in the villages are still miserable.
Violence against women is still prevalent. The girl child remains vulnerable to abuse.
Many of the victims of violence and victimisation never report their cases because they are afraid of retribution from society.
So for years they live with the physical and emotional pain, knowing that their pursuit for justice might turn them into “social outcasts”.
The lack of strong support systems for victims of violence and other abuses makes their plight worse.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in gender-based domestic violence.
Because some women have nowhere to go they are forced to put up with their abusive spouses.
To deal with this problem we must change society’s attitude towards women abuse.
Men must be made to understand that women have rights and must be respected.
Women must understand their rights so that they exercise them.
But knowledge alone will not eradicate the problems.
Strong systems that will require money and political will are needed to protect and support victims.
Empowering women to break the cycle of poverty that forces them to remain in abusive relationships will go a long way.
The courts can also help by adequately punishing those who abuse women.
It is also important for the society to encourage victims to speak out.
The two women whose stories we have published are heroines for they have mustered the courage to speak out.
Because of them many who have been victimised in schools, abused in the villages, beaten in marriages and violated in workplaces might eventually speak out.
The testimonies of the two women might also force our society to rethink the subject of women’s rights.
This is a discussion we need to start now rather than later.

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