Family is a fading institution in Botswana – study
Family is a fading institution in Botswana and arguments relating to its death are centered on high rates of divorce, low rates of marriage and the high rate of cohabitation. Domestic violence is also said to be among the threats to the institution in the country.
According to a recent study titled “Botswana at cross roads; family and marriage, has the vision 2016 target met?” Botswana is plunged with polygamy, child marriages and the small house syndrome and apparently does not have a clear family policy addressing all family related issues which are widespread in the country.
In addition, the study revealed that working mothers face challenges relating to child care post maternity leave and also as a result childcare assistance needs to be enhanced.
Still with regards to child care, study states that more men are now embracing their family responsibility on the care for the children. “Previously child care was the duty of women. Today more men are willing to change their babies’ diapers,” it says.
An analysis of inter census statistics since 1971 shows a decline in marriage rates from 47.1% among men to 18.8% in 2011, and from 42.9% among women to 17.9%.
“Even though cohabitation increases and seems to define the now Botswana society, and that divorce rates have gone up,” an analysis of marriage statistics reports shows a positive trends where divorced persons ultimately re-marry, accounting for 6.9% in 2001 and 9.5% in 2012.
In addition, an analysis of marriage statistics reports since 2001 shows a positive picture where the crude marriage rate has increased from 4.87 in 2002 to 5.04 in 2012. The highest crude marriage rate was observed in 2007 and 2008 accounting for 5.69 and 5.78 respectively.
According to the study, like families across the world, the institution of family in Botswana has undergone and still undergoes changes. These changes, it says come with the fact that social values, as packages of culture, do change over time. There are considerable concerns about the status of the family since the 1980’s that saw the law reforms committee tasked with the responsibility to look into the family laws.
It points out that Botswana does not have a specific family policy but a number of interrelated instruments as policy measures as far as family formation, strengthening and protection are concerned.
“These include the 1997 National Population Policy (and the revised) which recognize the family as “the basic unit of production and reproduction and the importance of providing it with necessary protection and support to enhance the health and welfare of its members; the marriage Act (2002), this Act outlaws child marriages; the Matrimonial Causes Act (2001) which makes it not easy to dissolve a marriage except under four laid down conditions; and the labour laws which recognize the employees’ family roles by providing for paid maternity leave.”
It is understood that Maternity leave allowance has since been increased to at least 50 percent but government provides 100 percent to civil servants. Leave concession is also said to be accorded to single fathers and mothers. Transfer policy has however been established to deal with family problems arising from spouses living further apart from each other due to employment commitments.
“There has also been law reforms around the family. These include the Affiliation Proceedings Act (1999), Abolition of Marital Power Act (2004), statute Act (2004), Domestic Violence Act (2008) and Married Persons’ Property Act (2014),” study posits.
In terms of counselling, the civil society, traditional rites of passage and churches play major roles in facilitating the strengthening of families by offering pre and on marriage counselling. The research highlights that the Reanyalana government project is said to have gone further to marry members of the society who have been cohabiting.
The study is an evaluation of status of the family in Botswana in light of the Vision 2016 pillar of “a united and proud nation.” It concentrated on trends of marital statuses from marriage registration records and censuses as well as policy and law reforms and impacts on the life of the family in Botswana.
It emphasizes that:“Botswana needs a clear family policy addressing all family related issues including polygamy, child marriage, and small house syndrome which are also rampant in the country.”
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Malawi appeals for help over Cyclone Freddy at PAP
As of yesterday evening, the death toll from the Cyclone in Malawi had risen from the initially reported 190 to 225 in a short period of time, over 20 000 people have been displaced, and the worst of fears are yet to come as the fatalities continue to mount. This was reported by a Malawi Member of Parliament attending the Pan African Parliament session in Midrand, South Africa, Hon Steven Mikiya.
Mikiya was giving a statement on behalf of Malawi as the ongoing Pan African Parliament in South Africa.
Mikiya said the Cyclone has wreaked the most havoc in our countryâ€™s Southern Region. â€śThe Southern Region, has been hardest hit with widespread heavy rains and strong winds. This caused a rapid rise in water levels and subsequent flooding. Meanwhile, power supply has been disrupted, roads blocked off and rendered impassable and mudslides have also been widely reported,â€ť he said.
He made a special appeal to the PAP:Â â€śWhere I come from, there is a parable which I would like to share with you which says, â€śmzako weniweni umamudziwa panthawi ya mavuto.â€ť Simply put, a friend in need is a friend indeed or put loosely, a person who helps at a difficult time is a friend you can rely on.â€ť
Mikiya continued: â€śYes! Misfortune has knocked on our door and left in its wake a trail of death and destruction that may take years to fully recover from. However, amidst these difficulties, I have every reason to believe that sometimes when you are in a dark place and think you have been buried, you have actually been planted. My belief, Mr. President, arises out of my faith in this gathering and out of the conviction that it is not coincidental that Cyclone Freddy hit Malawi and Mozambique while the delegations of both countries are here.â€ť
According to Mikiya, the level of destruction, the loss of life, property and the decimation of the entire fabric of established communities has been unprecedented. He noted that all this, is coming at a time when Malawi was starting to show signs of recovery from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that also came hard on the heels of Cyclone Ana and Cyclone Gombe that left a similar trail of devastation and destruction in Malawi and neighbouring countries.
As of Sunday, this week, from the 12th of March, Malawi and Mozambique have been facing the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy that made a landfall over Mozambique on Saturday the 11th and reached Malawi by Sunday the 12th of March.
The Malawi legislator said he has absolute faith in the Pan African Parliament, which he described as â€śa league of nations brought together by a shared ancestry, history, identity as well as our beloved continent which we inhabitâ€ť.
Meanwhile, Malawi President, Lazarus Chakwera, has declared a State of Disaster in the affected areas effectively appealing for local and international support for the affected families.
Mikiya appealed to the Pan African Parliament drawing â€śpositiveâ€ť inspiration from Europe which rallied around Turkey after the destructive earthquakes to bring the much-needed relief and humanitarian aid to the people of Turkey.
He said Africa should demonstrate to the world that the African Union and its Organs are not mere talk shows, but effective institutions which stand up when it matters most.
â€śAlone, it may take us a lifetime to fully recover, but together, in the Pan-Africanist spirit of Ubuntu, our lives and livelihoods will return to a semblance of normality in record time. This is the time to live by our operative mantra, â€śOne Africa, One Voice.â€ť Mikiya concluded.