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A quarter of university students have experienced childhood sexual abuse – study says

One in four students at universities in Botswana is likely to report childhood sexual abuse, a study by the University of Botswana suggests. A study of 362 students enrolled at the University of Botswana found that 25% of them experienced childhood sexual abuse. About 23% of the students who reported childhood sexual abuse were male and 77% were females. The study linked childhood sexual abuse to harmful alcohol use, severe depression, failure to use contraceptives during sexual encounters, early sexual debut, and having multiple concurrent sexual partners.

The study, published in South African Journal of Psychology, and authored by a student, Ms Onalenna Phillip and her supervisor Prof Kennedy Amone-P’Olak, found significant differences between those who reported childhood sexual abuse and those with no history of sexual abuse on several mental health and behavioural outcomes. For example, about 36% of those who reported childhood sexual abuse initiated sexual activities before the age of 16 compared to 15% for those who did not report childhood sexual abuse.

Among those who reported childhood sexual abuse, 46% use contraceptives intermittently or not at all, 48% engaged in sex with multiple concurrent partners, 31% used alcohol hazardously, and 28% had severe depressive symptoms compared to 17%, 16%, 12%, and 13% of those who did not report childhood sexual abuse, respectively. The study demonstrates that childhood sexual abuse is widespread and common among every echelon of society including those in high socio-economic stratum as indicated in the socio-economic background of the students.

A confluence of family environmental factors that make children vulnerable to sexual abuse are discussed in the study. Among these factors are family conflicts, family dysfunction, domestic violence, drug and substance abuse, intergeneration sex for monetary gains, and traditional beliefs that young girls are free from sexually transmitted diseases. All these factors are common in Botswana and are known to put children in vulnerable situations in which they can be sexually abused.

For instance, girls raised by single mothers can be abused by their stepfathers, mothers’ boyfriends or relatives. Similarly, the traditional beliefs that older men can rejuvenate their sex lives by sleeping with young girls make girls, in particular, vulnerable to childhood sexual abuse.

The study recommends that government should adopt an integral approach that accounts for the efforts of multiple sectors as well as policies that reach greater levels of child protection and the protection of survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the country. Furthermore, universities and other institutions of higher learning focus on developing interventions to treat survivors with the view to reduce the negative and potentially toxic emotional and behavioural consequences of childhood sexual abuse.

For example, the study called for improved access to mental health services for survivors but hasten to add that, although counselling services are available on many university campuses, numerous barriers still exist that make it difficult for survivors to access services. Such barriers include lack of awareness, the location of the services, poor attitudes towards counselling, and stigma surrounding sex and mental illness. These barriers can be reduced by creating awareness, improving attitudes through education, and introducing anti-stigma campaigns to increase uptake of services for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

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BODANSA strikes gold with a handsome P45K windfall from Turnstar Holdings

27th February 2024

The Botswana DanceSport Association (BODANSA) has been graced with a financial boon of P45,000 courtesy of Turnstar Holdings. This generous endowment is earmarked for the illustrious Botswana International Dance Sport Grand Prix Championships, which are scheduled to animate Gaborone from Friday to Saturday.

At a media engagement held early today, BODANSA’s Marketing Maestro, Tiro Ntwayagae, shared that Turnstar Holdings Limited has bestowed a gift of P45,000 towards the grand spectacle.

“We are thrilled to announce that this backing will enable us to orchestrate a cultural soirée at the Game City Marque locale, a night brimming with cultural fervor set for March 1, 2024, from 6pm to the stroke of midnight.

This enchanting space will also serve as the battleground for the preliminaries of traditional dance ensembles—spanning the rhythmically rich Setapa to the euphoric beats of Sebirwa, the spirited Seperu, the heavenly Hosana, and more—in a competition folded into the Traditional Dance Groups Category. The ensemble that dances into the judges’ hearts will clinch a grand prize of P10,000,” elaborated Ntwayagae.

He further illuminated that the cultural eve would not only celebrate traditional melodies but also the fresh beats of contemporary dance variants including Hip Hop, Sbujwa, Amapiano, among others, in a dazzling display of modern dance mastery.

Moreover, these championships carry the prestigious recognition by the World DanceSport Federation as a qualifying round for the Breakdance category for the Paris 2024 Olympics. “This is a monumental opportunity for athletes to leap towards their Olympic dreams during one of the penultimate qualifiers,” underscored Ntwayagae.

Looking ahead to March 2, 2024, the festivities will propel into the University of Botswana Indoor Sports Arena for the championship’s climactic showdowns encompassing Breakdance, Latin, and Ballroom Dancing.


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Government of Botswana yet to sign, ratify the UN-CRPD

26th February 2024

In Botswana, a beacon of democracy in Africa, the right to participate in the political discourse is a cornerstone of its societal structure. It’s an avenue through which citizens shape the rules and systems that govern their everyday lives. Despite this, recent studies indicate that Individuals with Disabilities (IWDs) are notably absent from political dialogues and face substantial hurdles in exercising their democratic freedoms.

Research within the nation has uncovered that IWDs encounter difficulties in engaging fully with the political process, with a pronounced gap in activities beyond mere voting. The call for environments that are both accessible and welcoming to IWDs is loud, with one participant, who has a physical disability, spotlighting the absence of ramps at voting venues and the dire need for enhanced support to facilitate equitable involvement in the electoral process.

The challenges highlighted by the study participants pinpoint the structural and social obstacles that deter IWDs from participating wholly in democracy. The inaccessibility of voting facilities and the lack of special accommodations for people with disabilities are critical barriers. Those with more significant or intellectual disabilities face even steeper challenges, often feeling marginalized and detached from political engagement.

To surmount these obstacles, there is an urgent appeal for Botswana to stride towards more inclusive and accessible political stages for IWDs. This necessitates a committed effort from both the government and relevant entities to enforce laws and policies that protect the rights of IWDs to partake in the political framework. Enhancing awareness and understanding of the political landscape among IWDs, alongside integrating inclusive practices within political entities and governmental bodies, is crucial.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing an inclusive political environment, Botswana can live up to its democratic ideals, ensuring every citizen, regardless of ability, can have a substantive stake in the country’s political future.



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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.



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