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Globally, over 271 Million people use drugs – UN

The United Nations World Report on Drugs 2019 says more than a quarter of a billion people use drugs. In 2017, according to the report, an estimated 271 million people worldwide aged 15-64 had used drugs at least once in the previous years. This corresponds to 5.5 per cent of the global population aged 15-64, representing one in every 18 people.

The report noted that in 2009, the past-year prevalence of drug use globally was estimated to be lower, at 4.8 per cent. Between 2009 and 2017, the estimated number of past-year users of any drug globally changed from 210 million to 271 million, or by 30 per cent, in past as a result of global population growth. Data show a higher prevalence over time of the use of opioids in Africa, Europe and North America, and in the use of cannabis in North America, South America and Asia. It should be noted, however, that any comparison of estimates over time should be taken with caution, given the wide uncertainty intervals of the estimates.

Over the last decade, the report says, there has been a diversification of the substances available on the drug markets. In addition to traditional plant-based substances- cannabis, cocaine and heroin- the last decade has witnessed the expansion of a dynamic market for synthetic drugs and the non-medical use of prescription medicines. More potent drugs are available and the increasing number of substances, and their potential combinations, poses a greater risk.

The report stressed that in recent years, hundreds of NPS have been synthesized. The majority are stimulants, followed by cannabinoids and an increasing number of opioids, with unpredictable and sometimes severe negative consequences, including death. The non-medical use of pharmaceutical opioids is of increasing concern. In North America, the use of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl resulted in the continued dramatic increase in opioid over-dose deaths in 2017.

In other sub regions, such as West and Central Africa and North Africa, based on seizures, the market for the non-medical use of tramadol has grown considerably. The first, large scale national drug use survey conducted in Nigeria, in 2017, found a high prevalence of the non-medical use of prescription opioids, mainly tramadol, which was second only to the use of cannabis, with a past-year prevalence of 4.7 per cent.

Further, the report indicated that among the estimated 27 million past-year users of any drug, some 35 million, or almost 13 per cent, are estimated to suffer from drug disorders, meaning that their drug use if harmful to the point where they may experience drug dependence or require treatment. This corresponds to a prevalence of drug use disorders of 0.71 per cent globally among the population aged between 15 and 64.

Between 2009 and 2016, the report noted that the prevalence of drug use disorders remained essentially stable globally, with the number of people suffering from drug use disorders changing over that period in line with population growth. However, in 2017, the prevalence of drug use disorders was higher than previously estimated, corresponding to a change in the estimated number of people suffering from drug use disorders from 30.5 million to 35.0 million. This higher prevalence is the result of the findings of drug use surveys conducted recently in two highly populated countries, Nigeria and India. Given the wide uncertainty intervals of the estimates, comparisons over time should be taken with caution.

Worldwide, there were estimated 188 million past-year users of cannabis in 2017, corresponding to 3.8 per cent of the global population aged 15 and 64. The annual prevalence of the use of cannabis is highest in North America at 14 per cent, Oceania 11 per cent, West and Central Africa at 10 per cent. In 2010, cannabis use, particularly among young people, was reported as stabilizing or declining in countries with established cannabis markets, such as in Western and Central Europe, North America and parts of Oceania, but that trend was offset by increasing consumption in many countries in Africa and Asia. While cannabis use in Europe is still reported as stabilizing, it has increased considerably in the Americas, Africa and Asia.

It was reported that opioids are a major concern in many countries because of the severe health consequences associated with their use. For example, in 2017, the use of opioids accounted for 110 thousand of the 167 thousand deaths attributed to drug use disorders. The opioid crisis continues in North America, reaching new highs in the number of opioid overdose deaths in the United States of America and Canada, with the increases largely attributed to the use of fentanyl and its analogues.

There were estimated 53.4 million past-year users of opioids globally in 2017. This corresponds to 1.1 per cent of the global population aged 15-64. The number of past-year users of opioids globally is 56 per cent higher than the previously estimated 34 million in 2016. The change is the result of an improvement in the understanding of the extent of drug use based on recent surveys conducted in Nigeria and India. The sub regions with the highest past-year prevalence of use of opioids were North America at 4 per cent, Oceania 3.3 per cent, the Near and Middle East and South West Asia at 2.3 per cent as well as South Asia at 1.8 per cent.

While global estimates are not available, the non-medical use of pharmaceutical opioids is reported in many countries, for example, in West and North Africa and in the Near and Middle East, and in North America. There are also signs of increasing non-medical use of pharmaceutical opioids in Western and Central Europe, reflected in the increasing proportion of admissions to treatment for the use of those substances. The results of the first large-scale nationwide drug use survey conducted in Nigeria in 2017, the most populated country in Africa, highlighted a considerable level of past-year non-medical use of prescription opioids with an annual prevalence of 6 per cent among men and 3.3 per cent among women.

Among users of opioids, 29.2 million were past-year users of opiates, that is heroin and opium in 2017, corresponding to 0.6 per cent of the global population aged between 15 and 64; the number of past-year users of opiates globally is 50 per cent higher than the previously estimated 19.4 million in 2016. According to the report, use of amphetamine, especially methamphetamine, is increasing in parts of Asia and North America. In 2017, there were an estimated 28.9 million past-year users of amphetamines, corresponding to 0.6 per cent of the global population aged between 15 and 64, 15 per cent lower than the previously estimated 34.2 million in 2016. The highest prevalence among the population aged between 15 and 64 was in North America at 2.1 per cent and Oceania at 1.3 per cent.

Globally, an estimated 18 million people were past-year users of cocaine in 2017, corresponding to 0.4 per cent of the global population aged between 15 and 64, according to the report. Past-year use of cocaine is high in Oceania, North America, Western and Central Europe and South America. In 2010, stable trends were reported in the use of cocaine in Central America, South America and Europe, while decreasing use of cocaine was reported in North America. More recently, in Western and Central Europe, waste water analysis and survey results in some countries suggest an increase in cocaine consumption in the sub region.

In North America, following a decline in cocaine use between 2006 and 2012, there are signs of an increase; there have also been reported increases in cocaine use in some countries in South America. In addition, the use of cocaine base paste, previously confined to cocaine-manufacturing countries, has spread to countries further south in the sub region. In parts of Asia and West Africa, increasing amounts of cocaine have reportedly been seized, which indicates that cocaine use could potentially increase, especially among the affluent, urban segments of the population, in sub regions where such use had previously been low. 

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Plight of GBV amid Covid-19

26th November 2020
16-days-of-activism

The United Nation’s UNiTE campaign has marked the beginning of 16 days of activism against Gender-based Violence which will end in December 10 2020, under the global theme, “Orange the world: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”

The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign), managed by UN Women — is a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world.

The UN Women’s generation equality campaign emphasises the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis, focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls.

Furthermore, the UN Secretary General’s report maintains that this year is like no other. Even before Covid-19 hit, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions.

Globally, according to United Nations, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year.

Meanwhile, less than 40 percent of women who experience violence report it or seek help.

Evidently they suggest that as countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified- in some countries, calls to helplines have increased five-fold.

“In others, formal reports of domestic violence have decreased as survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels. School closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, and more vulnerable to exploitation, abused, forced marriage, and harassment,” said the UN.

According to the UN, in April 2020 as the pandemic spread across the world, the UN Secretary-General called for “peace at home”, and 146 member states responded with their strong statement of commitment.

“In recent months 135 countries have strengthened actions and resources to address violence against women as part of the response to Covid-19. Yet, much more is needed,” said the report.

Moreover, they submit that as today, although the voices of activists and survivors have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced or ignored, ending violence against women will require more investment, leadership and action.

“It cannot be sidelined; it must be part of every country’s national response, especially during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis,” contended the UN report.

For the 16 Days of Activism, UN Women handed over the mic to survivors, activists and UN partners on the ground, to tell the story of what happened after COVID-19 hit.

According to Dubravka Šimonovic, special rapporteur on violence against women, there is urgent need to end pandemic of femicide and violence against women.

Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, she emphasizes that as the world grapples with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on women, a pandemic of femicide and gender-based violence against women is taking the lives of women and girls everywhere.

Therefore, she is calling on all States and relevant stakeholders worldwide to take urgent steps to prevent the pandemic of femicide or gender related killings of women, and gender-based violence against women, through the establishment of national multidisciplinary prevention bodies or femicide watches/observatories on violence against women.

These bodies should be mandated to 1) collect comparable and disaggregated data on femicide or gender-related killings of women; 2) conduct an analysis of femicide cases to determine shortcomings, and recommend measures for the prevention of such cases, and 3) ensure that femicide victims are not forgotten by holding days of remembrance.

“Data this mandate has collected since 2015 through my Femicide Watch initiative corroborates the data available from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and indicates that among the victims of all intentional killings involving intimate partners, more than 80% of victims are women.  Many of these femicides are preventable. Since 2015, a growing number of States have either established femicide watches or observatories, and in an increasing number of countries, it is the independent human rights institutions, civil society organizations, women’s groups and/or academic institutions that have established femicide watches or observatories,” she argued.

GBV in Botswana

UNFDP (United Nations Population Fund) Botswana cites that, locally over 67 percent of women have experienced abuse, which is over double the global average.

“Gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence and normalization. Victims of violence, the majority of which are women and girls, can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death,” indicated UNFDP

In his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) he delivered on Monday 9th November at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC), President Mokgweetsi Masisi said government is concerned about the snowballing of GBV incidences, saying, they have prioritized drafting of a Sexual Offenders Bill to be tabled during the sitting of the 12th Parliament.

“The Bill will establish a Sex Offenders’ Registry to record and publicise names and particulars of all persons convicted of sexual offences. To date twelve districts have set up the District Gender Committees in Chobe, Kweneng, Kgatleng, Kgalagadi, Maun, Serowe, Selibe-Phikwe, North East, Bobirwa Sub District, Mabutsane Sub District, Goodhope Sub District as well as Mahalapye Sub District. These committees will promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, and also address gender based violence,” Masisi said.

The President highlighted that the Botswana Police Service, which has been dealing a lot with GBV cases has taken swift action and introduced a Toll-Free number for reports on gender based violence. He further indicated that the Police will establish a Gender and Child Protection Unit

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.

In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.

In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.

Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.

More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.

At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.

The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).

Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).

International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.

In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”

The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”

According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.

In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.

The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.

LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.

“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.

Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020
Khato-civil

CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”

Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.

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