Last time we explored the phenomenon of Girl-Child Prostitutes (read WeekendPost dated 7 Jan 2017). In these series we venture into the genesis, evolution, and justification of the trade in African Countries (Part 1) and vulnerability of the trade called prostitution (Part 2). We shall also discuss the protection our law affords to prostitutes from various forms of abuse which they suffer at the hands of men and, ironically, from other women as well .In the process we shall also map a way forward (Part 2).
BUT WHAT IS A PROSTITUTE AND DOES THIS TRADE HAVE A MORAL AND OR LEGAL JUSTIFICATION?
Due to the influence of patriarchy, in almost all locations this concept has a bias towards one sex. It therefore refers to ‘ladies of the night’ –not witches, of course, but women who have commercialized their private anatomy. It is quite strange indeed, but not surprising in this male-dominated society, that we also have some males who have transformed their private anatomy into commodities, yet they are not branded as such. And this becomes a gender related Human Rights issue (unfair discrimination).
In most jurisdictions this practice is regarded both immoral and illegal. Because of the associated stigma and illegality of this trade, it is normally connected with and flourishes at night in beer-hallsgardens, shebeens or any other dark spot but nowadays, even in the heart of noon.
Contrary to the myth that these people come from poor backgrounds, research has shown that even well-to –do women and children who hail from stinking rich families are also peddling their flesh. Many reasons account for this: sexual adventurism; frustration in marriages and the attendant high rate of divorces; poverty; the drive towards freedom or Human Rights; peer influence and demonic inspiration, among other causes.
THE GLOBAL EVOLUTION OF PROSTITUTION The rise of the internet has made prostitution much easier and more accessible to the masses than was the case yesterday. Previously this trade required direct interaction between the sex-worker and the client .This often involved prostitutes standing in a public location waiting for someone to approach and solicit them for sex .Alternatively ,a group of prostitutes might congregate in a single building ,called a brothel ,to which clients would converge.
These conditions were difficult for sex workers to participate in given the relatively public nature of the solicitation and the reluctance of clients to engage them for fear of the legal consequences .Indeed these methods were relatively easy for police to monitor and for legislators to outlaw. The internet, on the other hand, allowed anyone with an internet connection to offer sex services almost anonymously, screen potential prostitutesclients, and avoid law enforcement agents.
It has led to an explosion in the sex trade, a vice that lawmakers have struggled to regulate. This has also been exacerbated by internet pornography—-sex boom. As can be deduced, the internet has not only changed prostitutes’ modus operandi but also made these methods more sophisticated.
THE GENESIS AND EVOLUTION OF PROSTITUTION IN AFRICA: Most Afro-centric historians are blaming capitalism, colonialism, urbanization and or Westernization for all African evils, adding that the concept ‘prostitution’ itself is a foreign one as it negates our culture. The evil of prostitution, goes the argument, was introduced into Africa by Westernization ,in general, and now Americanization, in particular, which is being exported everywhere, while masquerading under the guise of globalization.
In his book ‘Things Fall Apart ‘, Chinua Achebe unveils this development (erosion of the African way of life) and asserts that, as a result, people are ‘No Longer At Ease’. Urbanization meant husbands had to or were forced by colonialism to go into towns to commercialize their labour power while wives remained in the rural areas minding homes. But these husbands are only human and had to respond to the calls of nature-sex. And prostitution became a necessity.
This is the same ground of justification invoked by those who chose a life of celibacy but would also want to exercise their God-given right to intimacy since our laws do not compel anyone to marry! Therefore ladies in surrounding areas had to offer that service by becoming prostitutes. According to that reasoning, these prostitutes later on apprenticed the little ones and that is the root cause of the problem.
And in isolated cases even their wives at home also succumbed to the irresistible calls of nature and therefore ended up rendering the sexual service or letting in ‘traffic’ to intruders! It is this urbanization that, again, contributed considerably towards the disintegration of the extended family systemetwork. Euro-centric writers, on the other hand, contend that this problem has always been there and everywhere ever since the origins of mankind (Judges 16:1; Joshua 2:1-2; Luke 7:36-50).In fact Rahab, a prostitute in the bible, also happens to be in Jesus Christ’s line of ancestry.
Really an exotic concept? The tendency of apportioning blame on someone else for one’s failingsshortcomings spans far back into history since time immemorial and hence in Genesis 3:12 we see Adam blaming Eve for their having eaten the forbidden fruit. These people have encountered problems of various description and our African Laws, in general, and Criminal law, in particular, do not seem to protect them at all. This work has a strong bias towards Criminal Law.
As pointed out earlier on ,the problem with this trade is that it is considered not only immoral but illegal as well in most jurisdictions and the issue of morality is highly regarded in Africa .This is understandable because law-makers are influenced by their society ‘s morals and hence the co-relationship between law and morality . And African Customary Law, also, is indeed rooted in morality. But values are like beauty which lies in the eyes of the beholder! They are either relative or situational and no one is qualified to assert that he has better values than his neighbour’s or that another person ‘s sexual preference is deviant ,adding that his is normal.
The question to ask is whose and which standards are in use and what is deviance? To make matters worse, African Human Rights concerns emphasize so much on Group Rights that they tend to trivialize those of an Individual. Which is why the South African Constitution provides for the Spirit of UbuntuUnhu.
And what is the position of Religion and or Religious Law? As pointed out earlier on, African Law is totally opposed to this practice as it owes its parentage to or complements African Traditional Religion. This equally applies for Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Confucianism, Buddhism, etc. Other religions, on the other hand, are tolerant and examples are Satanism and Baalism (Baal is the Canaanite god of fertility) but such religions are not only very few but belong to minority groups as well. This writer is well convinced that even Eros, the Greek god of poking, would not support prostitution.
As such, ladies of the night are in a weak position to exercise or assert their rights, even when abused. And members of the community take advantage of this helplessness to abuse these people. Day in and day out Prostitutes’ rights are violated and they do not litigate because of the nature of their job which has been criminalized. To date Nevada is arguably the only country (state) in the American States that has legalized pros
British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham once opined: “If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.”
The truism in these words cannot be underestimated, especially when contextualizing against the political developments in Botswana. We have become a nation that does not value democracy, yet nothing represent freedom more than democracy. In fact, we desire, and value winning power or clinging to power more than anything else, even if it harms the democratic credentials of our political institutions. This is happening across political parties — ruling and opposition.
As far as democracy is concerned, we are regressing. We are becoming worse-off than we were in the past. If not arrested, Botswana will lose its status as among few democratic nations in the Africa. Ironically, Botswana was the first country in Africa to embrace democracy, and has held elections every five years without fail since independence.
We were once viewed as the shining example of Africa. Those accolades are not worth it any more. Young democracies such as South Africa, with strong institutions, deserves to be exalted. Botswana has lost faith in democracy, and we will pay a price for it. It is a slippery slope to dictatorship, which will bring among other excess, assault on civil liberties and human rights violations.
Former President, Festus Mogae once stated that Botswana’s democracy will only become authentic, when a different party, other than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wins elections, and when the President of such party is not from Serowe.
Although many may not publicly care to admit, Mogae’s assertion is true. BDP has over the years projected itself as a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of democracy, but the moment its stay in power became threatened and uncertain, it started behaving in a manner that is at variance with democratic values. This has been happening over the years now, and the situation is getting worse by the day.
Recently, the BDP party leadership has been preaching compromise and consensus candidates for 2024 general elections. Essentially, the leadership has lost faith in the Bulela Ditswe dispensation, which has been used to selected party candidates for council and parliament since 2003. The leadership is discouraging democracy because they believe primary elections threaten party unity. It is a strange assertion indeed.
Bulela Ditswe was an enrichment of internal party democracy in the sense that it replaced the previous method of selection of candidates known as Committee of 18, in which a branch committee made of 18 people endorsed the representatives. While it is true that political contest can divide, the ruling party should be investing in political education and strengthening in its primary elections processes. Democracy does not come cheap or easy, but it is valuable.
Any unity that we desire so much at the expense of democracy is not true unity. Like W. Somerset Maugham said, democracy would be lost in the process, and ultimately, even the unity that was desired would eventually be lost too. Any solution that sacrifice democracy would not bring any results in the long run, except misery.
We have seen that also in opposition ranks. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) recently indicated that its incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) should not be challenged for their seats. While BDP is sacrificing democracy to stay in power, UDC is sacrificing democracy to win power. It is a scary reality given the fact that both parties – ruling and opposition — have embraced this position and believe democracy is the hindrance to their political ambitions.
These current reality points to one thing; our political parties have lost faith in democracy. They desire power more than, the purpose of power itself. It is also a crisis of leadership across the political divide, where we have seen dissenting views being met with persecution. We have seen perverting of political process endorsed by those in echelons of power to manipulate political outcomes in their favour.
Democracy should not be optional, it should be mandatory. Any leader proposing curtailing of democracy should be viewed with suspicion, and his adventures should be rejected before it is too late. Members of political parties, as subscribers of democracy, should collectively rise to the occasion to save their democracy from self-interest that is becoming prevalent among Botswana political parties.
The so-called compromise candidates, only benefits the leadership because it creates comforts for them. But for members, and for the nation, it is causing damage by reversing the gains that have been made over the years. We should reject leaders who only preach democracy in word, but are hesitant to practice it.
Piracy of all kinds continues to have a massive impact on the global creative industry and the economies of the countries where it thrives.
One of the biggest misconceptions around piracy is that an individual consumer’s piracy activities, especially in a market the size of Botswana’s, is only a drop in the pool of potential losses to the different sectors of the economy piracy affects.
When someone sitting in Gaborone, Botswana logs onto an illegal site to download King Richard online, they don’t imagine that their one download will do anything to the production house’s pocket or make a dent in the actors’ net worth. At best, the sensitivity towards this illegal pirating activity likely only exists when contemplating going about pirating a local musician’s music or a short film produced locally.
The ripple effects of piracy at whatever scale reach far beyond what the average consumer could ever imagine. Figures released by software security and media technology company, Irdeto, show that users in five major African territories made approximately 17,4 million total visits to the top 10 identified piracy sites on the internet.
The economic impact of this on the creative industry alone soars to between 40 and 97.1 billion dollars, according a 2022 Dataprot study. In addition, they estimate that “illegally streamed copyrighted content consumes 24% of global bandwidth”.
As Botswana’s creative industry remains relatively slight on the scale of comparison to industries such as Nollywood and Nilewood where the creative industry contributes a huge proportion to West and East Africa’s respective GDPs, that does not imply that piracy activities in Botswana do not have a similar impact on our economy and the ability of our creative industry to grow.
When individuals make decisions to illegally consume content via internet streaming sites they believe they are saving money for themselves in the name of enjoying content they desire to consume. Although this is a personal choice that remains the prerogative of the consumer, looking beyond the fact that streaming on illegal content sites is piracy, the ripple effect of this decision also has an endless trail of impact where funds which could be used to grow the local creative industry through increased consumption, and revenue which would otherwise be fed back into Botswana’s economy are being diverted.
“Why can’t our local creative industry grow?” “Why don’t we see more home-grown films and shows in Botswana?” are questions constantly posed by those who consume television content in Botswana. The answer to this lies largely in the fact that Botswana’s local content needs an audience in order for it to grow. It needs support from government and entities which are in a position to fund and help the industry scale greater heights.
Any organisational body willing to support and grow the local creative industry needs to exist and operate in an economy which can support its mandates. Content piracy is a cycle that can only be alleviated when consumers make wiser decisions around what they consume and how.
This goes beyond eradicating piracy activities in so far as television content is concerned. This extends to the importation and trade in counterfeit goods, resale of goods and services not intended for resale across the border, outside its jurisdiction, and more. All of these activities stunt the growth of an economy and make it nearly impossible for industries and sectors to propel themselves to places where they can positively impact society and reinvest into the country’s economy.
So what can be done to turn the tide here in Botswana in order to see our local production houses gain the momentum required to produce more, license more and expand their horizons? While those who enforce the law continue to work towards minimizing piracy activities, it’s imperative that as consumers we work to make their efforts easier by being mindful of how our individual actions play a role in preventing the success of our local creative networks and our economy’s growth.
Whether you are pirating a Hollywood Blockbuster, illegally streaming a popular Motswana artist’s music, or smuggling in an illegal decoder to view content restricted to South Africa only, your actions have an impact on how we as a nation will make our mark on the global landscape with local creative productions. Thembi Legwaila is Corporate Affairs Manager, MultiChoice Botswana
This is a dangerous moment for Europe and for freedom-loving people around the world. By launching his brutal assault on the people of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has also committed an assault on the principles that uphold global peace and democracy. But the people of Ukraine are resilient.
They’ve had a democracy for decades, and their bravery is inspiring the world. The United States, together with our Allies and partners across the globe, will continue to support the Ukrainian people as they defend their country. By choosing to pay for a war instead of investing in the needs of Russians, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will be a strategic failure for the Kremlin and ravage the future of the Russian people.
When the history of this era is written, it will show that Putin’s choice to launch an unprovoked, unjust, and premeditated attack left the West more unified and Russia exponentially weaker.
United in Our Response
This will not end well for Vladimir Putin. Together, the United States and our Allies and partners are taking action to hold Russia accountable. As a result of unprecedented global sanctions coordination, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, and Canada have removed selected Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system and imposed restrictive measures on the Russian Central Bank.
President Biden announced sweeping financial sanctions and stringent export controls that will damage Russia’s economy, financial system, and access to cutting-edge technology. After Putin began his invasion, the ruble hit its weakest point in history, and the Russian stock market plunged.
Along with the United Kingdom and European Union, the United States imposed sanctions on the architects of this war, including Putin himself.
By moving in close coordination with a powerful coalition of Allies and partners representing more than half of the global economy, we have magnified the impact of our actions to impose maximum costs on Putin and his regime. In response to Putin’s war of choice, we will limit Russia’s ability to do business in U.S. dollars.
We will stunt Russia’s ability to finance and grow its military. We will impair Russia’s ability to compete in the global economy. And we are prepared to do more.
In addition to economic penalties, this week President Biden authorized an additional $1 billion over the $350 million of security assistance he recently approved, and a $650 million in 2021, to immediately help Ukraine defend itself, bringing America’s total security assistance to Ukraine over the past year to $2 billion.
We also stand ready to defend our NATO Allies. President Biden has coordinated with Allied governments to position thousands of additional forces in Germany and Poland as part of our commitment to NATO’s collective defense.
He authorized the deployment of ground and air forces already stationed in Europe to NATO’s eastern and southeastern flanks: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania. Our Allies have also added their own forces and capabilities to ensure our collective defense. There should be no doubt about the readiness of the greatest military Alliance in the history of the world: NATO is more united than ever.
The United States has also coordinated with major oil-producing and consuming countries to underscore our common interest in securing global energy supplies. We are working with energy companies to surge their capacity to supply energy to the market, particularly as prices increase.
Putin’s Unprovoked and Premeditated War
This was an attack that Vladimir Putin has planned for a long time. He methodically moved more than 150,000 troops and military equipment to Ukraine’s border. He moved blood supplies into position and built field hospitals, demonstrating his intentions all along.
He rejected every good-faith effort by the United States and our Allies and partners to address his fabricated security concerns and to avoid needless conflict and human suffering by engaging in diplomacy and dialogue.
Putin executed his playbook exactly as we had warned he would do. We saw Russia’s proxies increase their shelling in the Donbas. We saw the Russian government launch cyber-operations against Ukraine. We saw staged political theater in Moscow and heard outlandish and baseless claims made about Ukraine in an attempt to justify Russia’s aggression.
Russia continues to justify its military aggression by falsely claiming the need to stop “genocide” in Ukraine – despite there being no evidence that genocide was occurring there. We saw Russia use these tactics before when they invaded Ukraine in 2014 and Georgia in 2008.
And then, at almost the very same moment the United Nations Security Council was meeting to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and forestall disaster, Putin launched his invasion in violation of international law. Missiles began to rain down, striking historic cities across Ukraine. Then came air raids, columns of tanks, and battalions of troops, all riding a renewed wave of disinformation and outright lies.
We have been transparent with the world. We declassified our intelligence about Russia’s plans so there could be no confusion and no cover up. Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now his people will bear the consequences of his decision to invest in war rather than in them.
Transatlantic Unity and Resolve Stronger Than Ever
Putin’s goal of dividing the West has failed. In the face of one of the most significant challenges to European security and democratic ideals since World War II, the United States and our Allies and partners have joined together in solidarity. We have united, coordinating intensively to engage as one with Russia and Ukraine, provided assistance to Ukraine, developed a broad response, and reaffirmed our commitment to NATO.
Putin has failed to divide us. Putin has failed to undermine our shared belief in the fundamental right of sovereign nations to choose their destiny and their allies. And Putin will fail to erase the proud nation of Ukraine.
The next few days, weeks, and months will be incredibly difficult for the people of Ukraine. Putin has unleashed great suffering on them. But the Ukrainian people have known 30 years of independence, and they have repeatedly shown they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.
The world is watching this conflict closely, and if Russian forces commit atrocities, we will explore all international mechanisms that could be used to bring those responsible – whether members of the military or their civilian leadership – to account.
Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will cost Russia profoundly, both economically and strategically. The Russian people deserve better from their government than the immense cost to their future that this invasion has precipitated.
Liberty, democracy, and human dignity are forces far more powerful than fear and oppression. In the contest between democracy and autocracy, between sovereignty and subjugation, make no mistake: Freedom will prevail.