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WLSA concerned over govt’s failure to budget for GBV interventions

 

Moorosi Tsiane

WOMEN and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) is concerned about the government’s failure to include gender-based violence (GBV) interventions in the 2022/23 budget.

WLSA said this in its International Women’s Day statement. International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8 March annually. This year the commemorations were held under the theme: Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.

The statement came on the back of Finance Minister Thabo Sophonea’s M24, 8 billion budget for the 2022/23 financial year last week. The budget did not contain any provisions to fund GBV interventions.

It also came hard on the heels of last week’s approval of the Counter Domestic Violence Bill, 2021 by the National Assembly. The approval means that Lesotho is a step closer to enacting the much-anticipated law to address rampant domestic violence crimes. The bill has been pending since it was tabled in April 2021 by Gender, Youth, Sport and Recreation Minister, Likeleli Tampane.

The bill is meant to provide for the protection of the rights of victims and prevention of domestic violence and related matters.

But WLSA said it had expected the budget to prioritise GBV interventions and was disappointed that Mr Sophonea’s budget fell way short.

“WLSA has noted with concern that despite the high rate of GBV, the government has not budgeted and prioritised GBV interventions in the national budget,” reads the statement.

“We therefore urge the government to establish a GBV fund to assist survivors and victims of GBV and speed up the establishment of shelters as enshrined in the Anti Trafficking Act, 2011 and Gender and Development Policy of 2019.

“We have noted with concern the reluctance of previous and current governments in enacting the Anti Domestic Violence Bill, 2020. Past governments have failed to implement other related laws which aim to fight other forms of GBV like the Anti Tracking Act, 2011.”

The statistics from the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) were high enough to warrant the establishment of a GBV fund, WLSA said.

“The GBV statistics from LMPS provide enough evidence warranting the establishment of a GBV fund as a matter of urgency. We urge the current government to set up the fund to enable more survivors and victims of GBV access to justice and other requirements after being subjected to the trauma of this vice.

“The political will demonstrated so far (in approving the Counter Domestic Violence Bill, 2021) must be extended to the establishment of a direct budget to fight GBV. We believe this will assist many survivors and victims of GBV especially those in rural areas who must cover long distances seeking medical attention and let alone make repeated travels to attend court cases which hardly reach finality.”

The government must prioritise the passing of the Anti-Domestic Violence Bill, 2020 and amending the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act, 2011, WLSA said.

It was also imperative for the government to enact legislation compelling political parties to appoint and elect women to leadership positions on an equitable scale with men as enshrined in SADC protocols.

“As regards the participation of women in governance and leadership, we demand that the government enacts legislation that will compel political parties to adopt women on an equitable scale as enshrined in the SADC and other international protocols.

“It is unfortunate that the voices of women have been absent in governance, yet they constitute the majority of the population. We feel that gender equality should be one of the instruments for measuring the country’s good governance,” the statement reads.

 

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