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Life Loss Love explores LGBTIQ real life narratives

 A digital photography project dubbed Life Loss Love aims to raise awareness about the prevalence of discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer persons in Botswana; despite the widespread misconception they have basic protections.

First things first, LGBTIQ people worldwide continue to face stigma and discrimination especially in the health care. Access to healthcare is a fundamental human right, a human right recognized in an international human rights law through multiple United Nations treaties and reflected in national level legislation in many countries.

Even with the recognition of the right to health of every human being, LGBTIQ people are still subjected to stigma and discrimination, leading to disparities in access to, quality and availability of health care services. LGBTIQ people are denied services, experience discrimination by healthcare professionals who are unaware of health concerns particular to the LGBTIQ community.

Criminalization of same-sex relationships and punitive laws against LGBTIQ individuals further exacerbate negative health outcomes of the LGBTIQ community. Partners of the LGBTIQ in Nigeria, where homosexuality is criminalized and punishment includes death by stoning, reported that due to the climate of fear and repression they did not access the medical care they needed because they were afraid of being arrested or facing violence.

Homophobia and Tran’s phobia, both internalized and experienced, and social stigma, contribute to isolation and discrimination against LGBTIQ people, having long term impacts on mental health and well-being. Reports highlight that the LGBTIQ community face higher incidence of anxiety, depression, HIV and suicidal thoughts than heterosexual and cisgender counterparts.

Those who are not out, are forced to remain closeted, or do not have social support may experience more severe mental health issues. Mental health is still an emerging issue in many parts of the world leading to inadequately systems and services available to the LGBTIQ community, who often need these services too.HIV continues to be pervasive among key populations including transgender women and men who have sex with men.

Trends point to increased incidences of HIV transmission among young gay men. While these populations may experience higher exposure to HIV risk, countries continually fail to provide sufficient health care resources to both curb transmission rates as well as provide affordable and accessible treatment and services.In an exclusive interview with Weekend Life, Life Loss Love project coordinator Bradley Fortuin said stigma and discrimination towards LGBTIQ individuals is still a major challenge in Botswana and it goes unaddressed. ‘’this affects every aspect of daily life of these people; at family level, school and work environments, personal relationships, faith and even spiritually. LGBTIQ people often have to hide their true identity, thoughts and feelings just to survive and fit in.

when the Botswana High Court decriminalised homosexuality in 2019, this saw a big obstacle being removed. LGBTIQ people expected they would be assimilated into mainstream society. However, the reality is that decriminalisation did not end exclusion, stigma and discrimination as there are still human rights violations. Sexual and gender minorities in Botswana still experience unjust treatment, harassment, rape and other physical assaults’’ he told Weekend Life reporter Tlhabo Kgosiemang.

He further said the digital photography aims to explore the various real life narratives of LGBTIQ people, highlighting the intersections with other movements like the Women’s movement and the Disability movement. It draws attention to various societal issues from body positivity, same-sexual affection, religion, spirituality and faith, promoting topics around sex positivity, rape culture and toxic masculinity. ‘’marginalization often happens through the interplay of culture, beliefs and history. We can be subjected to discrimination in many forms.

As one of the subjects of this first series of images, Life Loss Love shows chapters of my own personal journey; from being sexually assaulted as a child by a family friend for being ‘’too girly’’ and feminine, to being told that my being gay was punished by God through the death of my mother. It is a testament of triumph, courage and forgiveness.it is about finding love, belonging and encouraging everyone to live their truth.’’

Fortuin stressed that he collaborated with Lame Dilotsotlhe, who is behind the lenses for this first edition, adding that to date; he has worked with 5 LGBTIQ identifying persons locally. ‘’This project is for all, and i will have to carry it out every quarter of the year. If people are interested they can contact us via instagram @lifelosslovebw.’’
When answering a question I probed about the inspiration behind the name, Fortuin underlined that ‘’life is a journey and we come across all kinds of situations, experiences that break us down, that mould us and those that make us stronger to be able to rise above all challenges.

All these experiences can be divided into life, loss and love. The name also came from my personal life’s journey and battle with my sexuality, having to deal with it and the impact that exclusion has had my mental and physical health. But also, I have had great life experiences; I have lived and experienced love in many forms, which has made me appreciate the lessons learned and my purpose in life.’’

Meanwhile, from Botswana to Barbados, Botswana’s ruling to decriminalising gay sex case made it key legal fights that will dominate LGBTIQ news in 2020. At number one, The U.S Supreme court is due to rule before June as to whether LGBTIQ people are protected by the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s ban on discrimination at work. Access to bathrooms for transgender students and lawsuits against the Pentagon over HIV-positive military personnel who were dismissed or banned from deployment are also hot-button topics where rulings are expected.

Number two: Botswana. A ruling is expected on a government appeal against a High Court ruling in June last year to decriminalise gay sex, making Botswana one of a handful of African countries to accept same-sex relations.Singapore’s High Court could rule on decriminalisation of gay sex this year. At least three men have filed cases arguing the law is unconstitutional or violates human dignity.

Jamaica is at number four. The Caribbean island’s colonial-era sodomy laws are being challenged by a petition lodged at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Any ruling would not be binding, but decriminalisation could cause waves in the region. Legal challenges to colonial ‘’buggery laws’’ have been launched or planned in Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica.

A law punishing sex between men with life imprisonment in Barbados was challenge din 2018 with a petition to the IACHR, which has asked the government to respond. If the commission recommends reform and the government refuses to implement it, the matter could be referred to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.With two cases filed in Hong Kong, same-sex marriage could become a key issue in the city, where homosexuality has been decriminalised since 1991, despite an October ruling that there was no obligations to allow LGBTIQ unions.

The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in Kenya has appealed against a High Court ruling in May to maintain the ban on gay sex, punishable by 14 years in jail. A hearing date has yet to be set. In Europe, the European Court of Human Rights is reviewing the case of a gay man who said he was persecuted in Chechnya and holding an inquiry into a wave of arrests in 2017 of LGBTIQ people in Azerbaijan.

 

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WeekendLife

Fashion without Borders flops

26th October 2020
FASHION WITHOUT BORDERS 2020

Fashion makes a statement, which is why Fashion without Borders tries by all means to get all amazing young designers to create dresses to fit every personality- from princess to punk, and everything in between.

Pretty obvious though, the 2020 edition flopped. It didn’t come as a surprise because the taxing COVID-19 pandemic has had overwhelming impacts on almost everything in the world.

Just when we thought Fashion without Borders 2020 will come much better than the previous tedious one, we were floored to see that there was little to no difference. The show was held at the most famous Molapo Crossing Stanbic Piazza, which without doubt was a perfect outdoor venue to host a fashion show, it didn’t however look like it was a fashion show filled with glitz and glam, if anything the show looked more like a public meeting.

The venue lack creativity and unruffled ambience. There were few chairs lined perfectly with a distance of two meters in between as a way of observing COVID-19 health protocols, but it looked more of a wedding than a fashion show.

As if that wasn’t startling enough, some important guests were told that there are no chairs for them to occupy. They had no choice but to stand on their feet the entire two shows, unacceptable and unprofessional for an event of its magnitude.

The Piazza is paved with light brownish small bricks that nearly made half of the models tumble. They kept on trembling, quaking and walking like new born calves, it was painful to watch to say the least. A ramp would have solved this issue.

Fashion without Borders is such a prodigious and immense esteemed fashion event that shouldn’t be seen with lot of glitches, especially that it features international designers from as far as Nigeria. The show was divided into two phases.

Attendees had to purchase two tickets should they want to attend both shows. There wasn’t really much of a difference between the two shows though.Security guards were all over trying to make sure everyone has the right tag for the second show, and people felt hassled.

As always, there were goodie bags with some nice gifts in them to be given to attendees at the fashion show. Some folks got their hands on the gifts and while others left out probably because the providers felt whichever way about that particular person.

I was reliably informed that some of the ‘big’ organizers were on quarantine and only underlings had to dance to the music. Some of them, according to a key witness, irked some members of the media. The media came in great numbers to support the event, like always, only for them to be treated less than.

Some of them left their cameras on and the ‘big’ organizers were not so happy about this from their quarantine centres. We just hope they recovered from the trauma of the COVID-19 contact tracing, as well as the droning, muddled event they threw this year.

In the fashion sense, a lot of folks felt it lacked substance. From the theme itself “The Phygital Experience”, most attendees were already lost, having no clue what it meant or how to respond to it.

Some felt the designers brought collections with less creativity, which spoke with little to no volume, while others were not fascinated by what was physically and digitally presented by the designers and models.

 

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WeekendLife

Surviving breast cancer

26th October 2020
Surviving breast cancer-Otshepheng Mthimkhulu

Breast cancer has been a nightmare for most women globally, and according to World Health Organization (WHO), the condition will continue claiming lives of many for years to come.

For Otshepheng Mthimkhulu, a 36-year old police officer at Ramotswa, had her life turned upside down by the illness. It has been a miserable reality getting to know that she has breast cancer, and for the rest of her life, she will be surviving with a single breast.

The small blood stains on her right breast stirred her to go see the doctor, who then recommended pain killers to ease the agony. Not knowing what she is suffering from, Mthimkhulu was told to come for check-up the next month which ultimately failed to give her a diagnosis.

It was only when she was getting seriously concerned about this condition that she followed up on the check-ups for the next six months. After being sent from pillar to post pertaining to mammogram that she was supposed to undergo, she finally got tested at a private hospital where she tested and did a biopsy.

“Unfortunately the results came back and I was told I have a metaplastic carcinoma breast cancer on stage 3,” she said.With her worse fear a reality, Mthimkhulu started her chemotherapy which took eight circles. “After the last circle I decided that I was not going for surgery because at the time, I was on training at the police college.

Lot of questions flocked my mind, lost in thoughts how I am going to face the world with only a single breast. That was the saddest time of my life.”Mthimkhulu had to do mastectomy and start another chemotherapy Herceptin because her hormones tested positive. She did not know what was next, only to be told that the cancer is now in her lungs.

Questions came rising and falling, and no answers were close enough. She was devastated, her dreams were crumpled and her life carried up-side-down. Quizzed on how she survived all the way through, she told Weekendlife that she got a little of inspiration from a series she watched, saying that she learnt that actually, there are other complicated conditions people are suffering and dying from, and cancer can be much better.

“I then started opening up to people and telling them about breast cancer. I earned great support from my close associates, something that gave me hope. At one point I met a woman who introduced me to a fighter group that abetted us with everything we needed.

It was a consecration I must say, because most of us felt much better and alive. Learning that we have breast cancer was just a fairy-tale to us.”They say every woman needs a man. Mthimkhulu found her husband who has been supportive and courageous throughout this journey. She said there are other substantial women who offered artificial breast, wigs and counselling.

No one ever told Mthimkhulu that this will be smooth sailing nor did she expect it to be. She went through overwhelming experiences that made her hopeless at times. According to her, at times her doctor’s appointments would be cancelled last minute. As much as that can be discouraging, she held on nonetheless.

“I started experiencing the side effects of the chemotherapy when I lost my hair, nails and skin complexion. I was always fatigued and stressed most of the times and I was always on sick leave. This was fracturing because I never thought at one point I will be living with cancer,” she said in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Award-Winning Youth Activist, Omphemetse Mmolai, through her organization Berekela Botswana Monana in collaboration with LEGABIBO will be hosting breast cancer survivors, well-wishers, and other relevant stakeholders for breast cancer awareness event in Lobatse this Saturday.

Mmolai told Weekendlife reporter Tlhabo Kgosiemang that there will be a hill climbing exercise meant to sensitize the public about the breast cancer condition, adding that the Lobatse DHMT and LEGABIBO organizations will be having pertinent presentations.

“I have been involved in different activities geared at addressing various issues that affect the youth, women and girls. It is significant to note that these activities were conducted in Lobatse, so this month as it is the time to raise awareness about breast cancer, that will be my main focus.”

Quizzed on why hill climbing, she said this is a way of showing hardships of what breast cancer survivors go through. This is to say they comprehend the circumstances they are being challenged with, and that they are not alone in this fight.

 

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WeekendLife

A.T.I: Batswana’s Judas Iscariot

19th October 2020
Atasaone Molemogi aka

Atasaone Molemogi, who goes by the stage name of A.T.I, is yet again making headlines and trending on social media platforms.

The eccentric and somewhat lose cannon artist is under fire for the stunts he pulled early this year. A.T.I had gone over and above to enlighten and fight for Batswana’s rights against according to him, foreigners who have monopolised the country.

So much so Atasaone recorded a video ranting and hurling insults while in front of Satar Dada’s Motor Centre at Fairground Mall. That was one of his many episodes. However, the one that gave him the ‘struggle icon’ persona was when he was arrested for making a video in front of the State House, this landed the dear lad in the cells of Urban Police Station and later transferred to Central Police Station.

Batswana gathered at the Central Police to demonstrate and demand the maverick be released. A.T.I became the Mandela of Botswana, the voice of the voiceless, the Messiah Batswana needed. A.T.I could not become any bigger till another outspoken personality stepped on the stage, Duma Gideon Boko, lawyer and President of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

The aberrant lawyer did not disappoint, especially when he flamboyantly swung his gown on like Superman in front of the press. This was the moment, Botswana’s two outspoken and nonconformists were wearing their capes to save the ordinary citizen from years of being subjected to mediocracy.

Molemogi had Batswana believe that indeed they were being treated unfairly in their own country and incited many to take up arms and fight for a better Botswana for Batswana. The people stood rock solid behind the maverick artist.

That is until A.T.I pulled the rug under their feet and went ahead and met Tumiso Rakgare, Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture. The very same Minister he vehemently declined to meet, hell-bent on only having an audience with the President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi.

What transpired between Rakgare and A.T.I is not known, but any Tom, Dick and Harry can guess that A.T.I, one way or another, was enticed by something said or done by the Minister because the recluse was as silent as a lamb after the meet.

Now, this publication by no means implies that Rakgare offered Atasaone anything valuable but observing the cries of the masses it may be deducted to something along those lines.All this however happened mid this year and anyone would think that it would be old news and a closed chapter, not to be.

The public cannot for the life of them get over how A.T.I used them to push his agenda and then leave them hanging. A sin unforgiveable in the eyes of Batswana. And so the masses have to have their displeasure made known.

A.T.I has been awarded a new name, Judas Iscariot. The infamous follower of Jesus Christ who sold the latter to the Jews for 30 pieces of silver. Batswana made the reference having deducted that they and their dreams have been sold in the same way Christ was sold off. A.T.I has sabotaged and sold the struggle, for what or how much is still not known.

While people find it hard to understand why ATI threw in the towel, the controversial singer seems unbothered and does not regret anything. He however cited that he is not fond of the name ‘Judas Iscariot’. He further stated that people should understand that it is easy for him to get lost in the midst of everything.

A.T.I shared with this publication that he needed to start somewhere in order to meet the President. He further mentioned to this publication that they discussed how best they can assist the youth and he was telling the Minister about his clothing line, and asking for support from the minister. None of the things mentioned have materialized however.

In his defence he said, “We need to be able to save ourselves before we can be able to save others. People should stop laughing at people who supported me and they should stop calling me Judas Iscariot. The reason why I was going to war when the year began, was because I needed security and I needed our leaders to give me answers.

I was scared I wanted more communication. With time I noticed that I am losing myself. No one told me what to do but I did what I did and I did exactly how l felt it was best,” he said.“A lot of people felt I am their answer, no! I am not anybody’s answer that is why when I was still at it I noticed the saviour mentality. I felt I was back at it again.

I cannot try to save the world all the time. You cannot change the world that don’t see the need to change their mental state.

At the same time the people I am trying to do it for, are still stuck in 89. I did it for the people I needed to do it for and for the truest results to be visible.”

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