KUNGWENGWE STAR CHARLES In the previous epistle this writer explored the following issues as causing the above problem: girl-child trafficking, globalizationcapitalismAmericanizationwesternization, disintegration of the extended family system network, poverty, peer influence, the law itself, child headed families and abuse of the girl-child by men. We now pick the discussion from there.
In this period, and as indicated in the previous article, some sexually-greedy jelly daddies are further fueling problems as they purport to marry the girl just to boost their ego and then ditch her in no time in search of more fresh children .And with no jobs in sight to mitigate her ordeal, the only logical escape route, to her, is prostitution!. Young prostitutes are a favorite hunting ground for old people as that tends to inflate their ego—the latter would feel young.
Old men tend to dog the girls, whose semi nakedness appears to be beckoning all men, to a point where nothing short of the riot police armed to teeth with button-sticks, tear-gas and fierce bull-dogs could stop long and meandering queues of males as they python their way all the way to the girls’ places of residence. For the avoidance of over-repetition, this writer will not reiterate the fact that sugar-daddies and mummies mainly came into being as a direct result of the death of the extended families.
Various forms of abuse of women by men, on their own: physical, emotional, mental, etc, usually result in the girl child developing lack of trust or having a negative interest towards serious relationships with men and the end result is prostitution. This abuse expresses itself in various forms. We have already encountered rape elsewhere in this piece of work but there are many other examples as well. In the past sex was regarded a sacred act that could only be enjoyed within the confines of the bedroom and by spouses while one’s private anatomy was treasured.
Such values have, partly due to Western influence, been trivialized in recent years and one can just render her private treasure to anyone and joining prostitution, against that background, would not come as a surprise. These are suicidal tendencies indeed. Lose of trust in men is even worse among girls who have been cheateddisappointed in serious relationships and then develop irreparable scars of emotional damage
Linked to the above problem is parent-child neglect, lack of parental guidance during the formative years of the child’s personality and or parental abuse. When parents have withdrawn affection from the child, and worse still, not sending her to school, due to gender related problems, the latter may seek solace in promiscuous relationships, and then prostitution if jobs do not come by. After all, just being loved, on its own, and having a sense of belonging occupy a very strategic position on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the girl-child is no exception.
This is a classic example of emotional abuse. The problem of domestic violence also worsens the situation AND WE ARE FULLY AWARE OF THE SATANIC NATURE OF STEP MOTHERS!. When parents are always fighting in full view of their children, the latter, particularly the girl-child, tend to lose interest in a married life and this disinterest could lead them to the bar
Most parents rent houses but due to poverty they cannot afford rooms which are (many) enough to accommodate their usually many children. Against that background ,it is not uncommon to come across parents sharing the same bedroom with their children and these observant youngsters ,as we have said before, would want to experiment what they see happening at night ,that is, the sheets politics.
In most cases one room serves as the kitchen ,bedroom and dining room ,all rolled into one .Some promiscuous parents, and prostitutes alike ,even have the guts to make love in full view of these youngsters and what will be the possible result?—child sexual adventurism, something that could lead them to the pub. Hardly surprising ,then, that most children of prostitutes also graduate into prostitutes at a very tender age.
Still on that note, some of their extremely immoral clients have an uncanny propensity of clandestinely and Necodemously making love to both the mother and the child How about genetics or the case of a chip of the old block? Could it be scientifically proven that one can inherit genes of criminality or deviance from one’s fore-bearers? .What does the voice of psychology and Criminology say? Or is this behavior sociologically determined? —-The nature –nurture controversy, it seems!. Sociological factors revolve around the environment one finds herself in.
For example, prostitution is very rife in these days of economic hardships and children learn by imitating what they see. By the same token, I need to repeat, chances are that a child of a prostitute would also herself become one and that family may end up in a perpetual web of this evil. As we have already seen, poverty can easily mislead one .This comment also holds true for children of child prostitutes who have been forced to join this profession by desperation.
It is incorrect to say money is the root of all evils but appropriate to blame the lack of money. The Reformative Rehabilitative Theory of Punishment is premised on the idea that every person is a potential criminal depending upon circumstances confronting one. Which is why this theory tends to sympathize with criminals who are portrayed as victims-not of the web of their own making, but of harsh circumstances confronting them.
Could we also rightly put blame on evil spiritsmamhepo on the part of children of the rich who choose to become whores?. How about the genetically modified food which we eat today which can ,for example ,increase her sexual appetite(kkk) or portray a 10 year old girl like a fully grown up lady?. Is this not a contributory factor?. Let us allow our imagination to wonder.
The law enforcement agents, most of whom are males and hence potential perpetrators, tend to handle the like-minded with kid gloves. Though the Criminal laws of most countries is silent about this development plans are currently underway to align this piece of legislation with their Constitutions by elevating the girl‘s consenting age to 18, the legal age of majority (see section 78:1 of the Zimbabwean Constitution). This is heart-warming news indeed!. But we can only put permanent smiles on our faces when our Criminal Laws have been amended accordingly.
According to the Principle of Legality where there is no legal provision there is no crime (the ius acceptum rule) though certain conduct may be highly immoral. Unlike the Botswana Criminal Law that has totally parted ways with the Roman-Dutch Common Law (section 3:1), its Zimbabwean counterpart still retains that link and section 3:1 -2 of the Criminal Reform and Codification Act Cap 9:23 reads:
‘Roman-Dutch Criminal Law no longer applies to the extent that this code expressly or impliedly enacts ,reenacts, amends, modifies or repeals that law.’ It further states that there is nothing that would stop the court, when interpreting this code, from obtaining guidance from judicial decisions and legal writings on relevant aspects of this Roman –Dutch Law or the legal systems of other countries”
Lest we forget ,it must be mentioned that girl-child marriages frequently lead them to the streets ,especially if that marriage came into being through deviant means or was forcibly initiated eg as payment to appease the avenging spirits or as a form of atonement to the raped girl. Not only that ,usually upon the attainment of majority age, the child may run away from her husband after having realized that she was taken advantage of. If survival skills are not available the girl may join the above vice. The most logical conclusion that could be drawn is that the divorce of the young girl may lead to prostitution. Remember the issue of dependent and independent variables
Other factors include drug abuse which has the potential of clouding one’s sense of judgment to a point where one can easily become a humble slave to her own conscience or objectivity. Consider ,for example ,how the biblical Noah ,who after having had one ,too many ,striped himself nude naked and unashamed in full view of his own children(Genesis 9:20-27).Likewise , Lot, another biblical character, had the guts to not only share the forbidden fruit with have carnal knowledge of his own blood daughters but even procreated children with them while in a drunken stupor(Genesis 19:31-38).
The concluding remark is that the environment, more than heredity, plays a crucial role in cases of girl-child prostitution and this problem needs to be addressed urgently before it condemns all girls to virtual extinction. Apart from sexual exploitation ,in say, receiving Mickey mouse payment for the services she rendered or not getting any payment at all ,the girl-child risks getting beaten up, maimed or even killed in this risky dog-eat-dog occupation by either clients or other competitors ,who are older, given her competitive advantage.
Other risks include contracting STDs, HIVAIDS, becoming sterile, impotent, death due to premature pregnancies, being stigmatized and ostracized by members of the mainstream society et cetra. Some people become prostitutes because they are shunned and or ostracized by society while others are stigmatized and ostracized because they are prostitutes. The reader must have noted that the discussed causes are dovetailed and should not be treated as watertight compartments.
For example, poverty could lead to the death of the extended families as they are expensive to sustain and, in a similar manner, the death of such family networks enhances more poverty on the part of those who derive their livelihood out of them. Furthermore, Westernization is blamed for having caused this breakdown of such structures. Again, poverty often leads to drug abuse and then prostitution. What then is the way forward?. Buy a copy of this paper next week and evaluate the suggested solutions to this problem.
This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.
The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.
The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.
Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.
We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.
More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.
The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the market.
Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.
We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?
Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?
Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?
They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?
What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?
They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?
We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?
To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?
Batswana must be made aware that the end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.
For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with the arduous imperative of analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.
Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.
Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute in Botswana is overdue.
If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.
Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.
Today is International Women’s Day – it’s a moment to think about how much better our news diet could be if inequities were eliminated. In 1995, when the curtains fell in one of the largest meetings that have ever brought women together to discuss women in development, it was noted that women and media remain key to development.
Twenty-six years later, the relevant “Article J” of the Beijing Platform for Action, remains unfulfilled. Its two strategic objectives with regard to Women and Media have not been met. They are Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication
Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.
Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, it’s an indictment on both media owners and civil society that women remain on the periphery of news-making. They cannot claim equal space in either the structures of newsrooms or in the content produced, be that as sources of news or as the subjects of reports. Indeed, the latest figures from WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Programme show just one in five voices in news belong to women*, be they as sources, as the author or as the main character of the news report.
Some progress was evident several years back, with stand-out women being named as chief executive officers, editors in chief, managing editors and executive editors. But these gains appear short lived in most media organisations. Excitement has turned to frustration as one-step forward has been replaced with three steps backwards. In Africa, the problem is acute. The decision-making tables of media organisations remain deprived of women and where there are women, they are surrounded by men.
Few women have followed in the footsteps of Esther Kamweru, the first woman managing editor in Kenya, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s standout women editors include Pamela Makotsi-Sittoni (Nation Media Group, Kenya), Barbara Kaija (New Vision, Uganda), Mary Mbewe (Daily Nation, Zambia), Margaret Vuchiri (The Monitor, Uganda), Joyce Shebe (Clouds, Tanzania), Tryphinah Dongwana (Weekend Post, Botswana), Joyce Mhaville (Independent Television -ITV, Tanzania) and Tuma Abdallah (Standard Newspapers,Tanzania). But they remain an exception.
The lack of balance between women and men at the table of decision making has a rollback effect on the content that is produced. A table dominated by men typically makes decisions that benefit men.
So today, International Women’s Day is a grim reminder that things are not rosy in the news business. Achieving gender balance in news and in the structure of media organisations remains a challenge. Unmet, it sees more than half of the population in our countries suffer the consequences of bias, discrimination and sexism.
The business of ignoring the other half of the population can no longer be treated as normal. It’s time that media leaders grasp the challenge, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes a whole lot of business sense: start covering women, give them space and a voice in news-making and propel them to all levels of decision making within your organisation.
We can no longer afford to imagine that it’s only men who make and sell the news and bring in the shillings to fund the media business. Women too are worthy newsmakers. In all of our societies, there are women holding decision making positions and who are now experts in once male-only domains such as engineers, doctors, scientists and researchers.
They can be deliberately picked out to share their perspectives and expertise and bring balance to the profile of experts quoted on our news pages. Media is the prism through which society sees itself and women are an untapped audience. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us embrace diversity, which yields better news content and business products, and in so doing eliminate sexism. We know that actions and attitudes that discriminate against people based on their gender is bad for business.
As media, the challenge is ours. We need to consciously embrace and reach the commitments made 26 years ago when the Beijing Platform for Action was signed globally. As the news consuming public, you have a role to play too. Hold your news organization to account and make sure they deliver balanced news that reflects the voices of all of society.
Jane Godia is a gender development and media expert who serves as the Africa Director of Women in News programme. WOMEN IN NEWS is WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org
The eve of International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us to think about gender equality and the long and often frustrating march toward societies that are truly equal.
As media, we are uniquely placed to drive forward this reflection and discussion. But while focusing on the challenges of gender in society, we owe it to our staff and the communities we serve to also take a hard look at the obstacles within our own organisations.
I’m talking specifically about the scourge of sexual harassment. It’s likely to have happened in your newsroom. It has likely happened to a member of your team. It happens to all genders but is disproportionately directed at women. It happens in every industry, regardless of country, culture or context. This is because sexual harassment is driven by power, not sex. Wherever you have imbalances in power, you have individuals who are at risk of sexual harassment, and those who abuse this power.
I’ve been sexually harassed. The many journalists and editors, friends and family members who I have spoken to over the years on this subject have also been harassed. Yet it is still hard for leaders to recognize that this could be happening within their newsrooms and boardrooms. Why does it continue to be such a taboo?
Counting the cost of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is, simply put, bad for business. It can harm your corporate reputation. It is a drain on the productivity of staff and managers. Maintaining and building trust in your brand is an absolute imperative for media organisations globally. If and when a case gets out of control or is badly handled – this can directly impact your bottom line.
It is for this reason that WAN-IFRA Women in News has put eliminating sexual harassment as a top priority in our work around gender equality in the media sector. This might seem at odds with the current climate where social interactions are fewer and remote work scenarios are in place in many newsrooms and businesses. But one only needs to tune into the news to know that the abuse of power, manifested as verbal, physical or online harassment, is alive and well.
Preliminary results from an ongoing Women in News research study into the issue of sexual harassment polling hundreds of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia indicate that more than 1 in 3 women media professionals have been physically harassed, and just under 50% have been verbally harassed. Just over 15% of men in African newsrooms reported being physically harassed, and slightly less than 1 in 4 reports being verbally harassed. The numbers for male media professionals in Southeast Asia are slightly higher than a quarter on both forms of harassment.
The first step in confronting sexual harassment is to talk about it. We need to strip away the stigma and discomfort around having open conversations about what sexual harassment is and isn’t. Media managers, it is entirely in your power to create dynamics in your own teams that are free from sexual harassment.
Publishers and CEOs, you set the organisational culture in your media company.
By being vocal in recognising that it happens everywhere, and communicating to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, you send a powerful message to your teams, and publicly. With these actions, you will help us overcome the legacy of silence around this topic, and in doing so take an important first step to create media environments that truly embrace equality.
Melanie Walker is Executive Director of Media Development of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is a creator of Women in News, WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org