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Girl child prostitution, a disturbing trend: Part 1


Almost all religions ,and cultures alike , across the globe ,portray children as godly-perfect beings(metaphorically speaking)  and ,as such, handle them carefully .In Mark 10:14;Matthew 18:3 Jesus Christ asserts that the ‘Kingdom of God’ belongs to them.
This is so because their minds are still naïve in the light of the vulgar aspects of life.

Accordingly, the prophet Isaiah, saw in his vision seraphims (youthful angels) surrounding God’s throne (Isaiah 6:1-2). Even  an animal  of a base instinct such as a dog, no matter how fierce it might be, oftentimes jealously guard and would fight to death in order to protect its youngsters. Every society that seriously considers its self-renewal, perpetuation or sustainable development has a mandate to guard its offspring from danger.  

Contrary to the above-mentioned virtues, children have joined the world’s oldest profession, prostitution and our salacious men, some very old, for that matter, are preying on them. Yes tones and tones of paper and volumes of ink have been used to campaign against girl child premature marriages but to date little or nothing at all has been said about girl-child prostitution yet the girl –child is very vulnerable.   For example, it is estimated that about 60% of those who are HIV positive or have died of AIDS are the youthful. Or maybe much has been said about the problem in question but little has been done to address it—just a talk-show.  Does it imply then that this (child prostitution) is a better evil?.

 According to statistics child prostitutes constitute a large percentage of the population. Some, as young as 10, are always seen swarming around beer-halls like bees around a flower and that is a very disturbing trend indeed!. And countries which are leading culprits in this regard include Sri Lanka, Thailand, Brazil and even the US, the so-called paragon of civilized societies. Thailand, for example, registered about 800 000 child prostitutes who were below 16 years in 2004 while UNICEF indications are that there are at least 40 000 recognized child prostitutes in Sri Lanka.

The U.S.A boasts of between 1,4 to 2,4 million children as young as 12 who have joined this risky trade. As if this tragedy were not enough on its own, the desperate toddlers are subjected to sexual exploitation as most are getting as little as 80p per transaction, an amount that is just enough to secure basic needs.

For fear of reviving your wounds let me not venture into the emotive topic of child trafficking by some unscrupulous money-maniacs. These ‘kids’ are used and abused  for the purposes of turning them into prostitutes ,for personal gain, by these greedy  people who are ,at best ,without a single soft spot on their hearts and ,at worst ,heartless.

The situation is even worse during wartimes when these vulnerable and gullible people are lured or forced to render free sexual services to soldiers. According to Wikipedia globally more than 10 million children, especially in South America and Asia, are forced into prostitution each year and in Third World, developing countries, it is estimated that a significant number of children are on the streets.

A wide range of factors account for this trend but, due to both time and space, this writer will identify only a few:
First, unlike was the case in the yesteryears, nowadays children are being thrust into the world of adulthood at a very tender age. In this age of globalization, in which by merely pressing the knob of a computer, one is exposed to what is happening millions of kilometers away, these youngsters view various obscenities on the internet eg pornographic materials. 

This equally applies for modern entertainment, on romance, which the girl-child views daily on the television screen. And all children would want to experiment what they see thereon. Seeing is believing, they say, as opposed to hearsay or town-talk.
Added to this problem is poverty, coupled with child –headed families, as the AIDS pandemic continues to spread its tentacles into the social fabric at alarming proportions.

The child, especially the girl-child, would have the unenviable burden to fend for both herself and her youngsters. This is the traditional role of women, in general.  Self-preservation, they say, is a natural instinct in the face of danger, unless one has a disproportionately large sense of endurance or sacrifice, large enough to equal that of Jesus Christ who offered his life in order to save the world. Such rare people are indeed abnormal.

Our law has nothing to do with either the abnormal (above the normal) or the subnormal (below the normal) but the normal, usual or reasonable man (diligens paterfamilias standards) whose conduct we must strive to emulate. Harsh economic times can easily weaken one’s moral stamina .In that context, one hardly thinks of morality while on an empty stomach. This is the case of the proverbial drowning person, who can do anything, even if it means clinging to straw, in a bid to save deal life. The implications are self-evident.

 Most Schools of Thought hold the view that the end justifies the means while others contend that the means must justify that end. According to the former group of philosophers what is important is merely getting food on the table and not how that food has been obtained and this is the reasoning of most people, including the girl child herself. But this solution amounts just winning a single battle and not the war or to what Shakespeare describes as merely ‘scotching the snake but not killing it’ as it begets worse problems such as HIVAIDS. To the girl child it never rains but it pours. It would appear as if all the plagues of Egypt and a few more have combined their crushing weight against her.   

 Over and above that, poverty-related accommodation problems can also contribute to the above tragedy. We shall revisit this issue next week when we explore the concept parental abuse.  
Peer pressure (45% of the cases) from deviant girl children, who even come from well-to-do families, and attendant juvenile delinquency is another cancer that has been eating from the heart aspects of the girl-child morality to a point where she is now a bare skeleton of moral decay. This is understandable because children, and practical experience has proved, time without number, are both impressible and impressionable.

The death of the traditional extended family network, which used to allow uncles and aunties to play a crucial role in the upbringing of the child so that shehe would grow up with a sense of moral values, has not helped the situation either. This is the dark side of capitalism and westernization in typical African settings.

 Capitalism is also associated with materialism or the urge to get rich at the slightest given opportunity and at whatever cost, even if it means prostitution .The vultures of Westernization have not only killed the animal of African culture but are also picking clean its decomposing carcass.  Needless to say, the disintegration of the traditional extended family system has engendered the development of street ‘kidding’ to those orphaned children who have nowhere to go. Apart from begging, these kids tend to supplement their meager alms with money gained from prostitution. This disintegration of the extended family has other implications – the phenomenon of sugar daddies and jelly-mummies.

In the past all elderly persons used to regard every child, even non biological ones, as their own product and would always be indifferent to the girl’s sexual appeal, no matter how appetizing or mouth-watering she might be. Furthermore, the elderly had a right to discipline  every  child ,anywhere ,but now that is regarded unlawful ,unless one is either in a protective relationship  with the child or has another legal duty to perform concerning the child. As a result, the child is now at liberty to misbehave, while away from the watchful eye of her parents. Our governments deserve blame in this regard.

Also, back then one‘s biological product would always be one‘s child no matter how old, till death did them part, and would always be given advice by these parents. All this has been overturned by the so-called Legal Majority Age (18) that has been misconstrued to mean upon the attainment of the above age a child is automatically free to mislead herself, away from the wise advisory words of her parents. The children tend to forget that these parents   are tried, tested and trusted in this regard. Perhaps, to sound like John Dewey, the Pragmatist Philosopher, they (parents) have long worn a tight shoe and therefore know where it pinches most, as opposed to ear-witnessing!

Because of modern entertainment, which the girls ape, and the freedom which the latter enjoy at a time when parental advice can easily be mistaken for child abuse, the girls go around naked in the ‘miniskirts’. How seductive!. Of course ,no-one can deny the fact that in some countries the weather is very hot ,and no-one can deny the fact that democracy allows freedom of dressing ,but the girls tend to overstep the mark in this regard and in the process advertise their velvet thighs .Maybe these are fashion issues.  

What worsens the above situation is the fact that some countries in the so-called civilized world, such as South Africa, have legalized this contra bonores mores practice under the guise that this promotes individual freedoms, an aspect of the Bill of Rights human rights. This relaxation of such laws also allows the girl-child to peddle her flesh and she may not be spotted since prostitutes do not carry around identity cards to show their ages.    

Another significant fraction of these deviant children are victims of rape and other various forms of abuse suffered at the hands of men. Often, rapists are close relatives whose identities will never be disclosed due to the stigma associated with such taboo sexual relations. It is no hyperbole to say victims of rape are usually blamed as having invited the men ,by say, through  putting on ‘provocative outfit’, and hence the cautionary rule that is invoked in the law of evidence whenever such cases are facts in issue.  

Added to the above plight, the child may fall pregnant and automatically graduate into a mother but without the resources to fend for her child. This child’s child would also  need to be fed and in these times of economic hardships if this feat cannot be achieved through fair means it must be by foul ones then——prostitution. And with no jobs available and no extended family network durawall to fall back lean on either the beer-garden or street becomes the next destination. Prostitution thus becomes an escape route-easy route to get money because the ‘job’ needs neither an academic qualification nor capital.

It sounds logical but a cost-benefit analysis is needed in the light of this immediate ‘benefit’ versus associated long-term dangers such as HIVAIDS. But it could also be argued that immediate needs, hunger, by far outweigh unforeseeable ones such as HIVAIDS. She may also seek solace in drug abuse as a way of toning down her misery (Proverbs 31:6-7) or engage in other risky misconducts. Research has proven that there is a cor-relationship between joblessness or idleness and crimemischief: an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.   
We now come to the end of this article . This writer shall further explore or stretch this topic far and wide in the oncoming series.

 (Charles is a Lawyer, political philosopher, historian, sociologist and gender activist)

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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The Era of “The Diplomat”

30th November 2020

Youngest Maccabees scion Jonathan takes over after Judas and leads for 18 years

Going hand-in-glove with the politics at play in Judea in the countdown to the AD era, General Atiku, was the contention for the priesthood. You will be aware, General, that politics and religion among the Jews interlocked. If there wasn’t a formal and sovereign Jewish King, there of necessity had to be a High Priest at any given point in time.

Initially, every High Priest was from the tribe of Levi as per the stipulation of the Torah. At some stage, however, colonisers of Judah imposed their own hand-picked High Priests who were not ethnic Levites. One such High Priest was Menelaus of the tribe of Benjamin.

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Land Board appointments of party activists is political corruption

30th November 2020

Parliament has rejected a motion by Leader of Opposition (LOO) calling for the reversing of the recent appointments of ruling party activists to various Land Boards across the country. The motion also called for the appointment of young and qualified Batswana with tertiary education qualifications.

The ruling party could not allow that motion to be adopted for many reasons discussed below. Why did the LOO table this motion? Why was it negated? Why are Land Boards so important that a ruling party felt compelled to deploy its functionaries to the leadership and membership positions?

Prior to the motion, there was a LOO parliamentary question on these appointments. The Speaker threw a spanner in the works by ruling that availing a list of applicants to determine who qualified and who didn’t would violate the rights of those citizens. This has completely obliterated oversight attempts by Parliament on the matter.

How can parliament ascertain the veracity of the claim without the names of applicants? The opposition seeks to challenge this decision in court.  It would also be difficult in the future for Ministers and government officials to obey instructions by investigative Parliamentary Committees to summon evidence which include list of persons. It would be a bad precedent if the decision is not reviewed and set aside by the Business Advisory Committee or a Court of law.

Prior to independence, Dikgosi allocated land for residential and agricultural purposes. At independence, land tenures in Botswana became freehold, state land and tribal land. Before 1968, tribal land, which is land belonging to different tribes, dating back to pre-independence, was allocated and administered by Dikgosi under Customary Law. Dikgosi are currently merely ‘land overseers’, a responsibility that can be delegated. Land overseers assist the Land Boards by confirming the vacancy or availability for occupation of land applied for.

Post-independence, the country was managed through modern law and customary law, a system developed during colonialism. Land was allocated for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and grazing and most importantly for residential use. Over time some land was allocated for commercial purpose. In terms of the law, sinking of boreholes and development of wells was permitted and farmers had some rights over such developed water resources.

Land Boards were established under Section 3 of the Tribal Land Act of 1968 with the intention to improve tribal land administration. Whilst the law was enacted in 1968, Land Boards started operating around 1970 under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands which was renamed Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) in 1999. These statutory bodies were a mechanism to also prune the powers of Dikgosi over tribal land. Currently, land issues fall under the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services.

There are 12 Main Land Boards, namely Ngwato, Kgatleng, Tlokweng, Tati, Chobe, Tawana, Malete, Rolong, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kweneng and Ngwaketse Land Boards.  The Tribal Land Act of 1968 as amended in 1994 provides that the Land Boards have the powers to rescind the grant of any rights to use any land, impose restrictions on land usage and facilitate any transfer or change of use of land.

Some land administration powers have been decentralized to sub land boards. The devolved powers include inter alia common law and customary law water rights and land applications, mining, evictions and dispute resolution. However, decisions can be appealed to the land board or to the Minister who is at the apex.

So, land boards are very powerful entities in the country’s local government system. Membership to these institutions is important not only because of monetary benefits of allowances but also the power of these bodies. in terms of the law, candidates for appointment to Land Boards or Subs should be residents of the tribal areas where appointments are sought, be holders of at least Junior Certificate and not actively involved in politics.  The LOO contended that ruling party activists have been appointed in the recent appointments.

He argued that worse, some had no minimum qualifications required by the law and that some are not inhabitants of the tribal or sub tribal areas where they have been appointed. It was also pointed that some people appointed are septuagenarians and that younger qualified Batswana with degrees have been rejected.

Other arguments raised by the opposition in general were that the development was not unusual. That the ruling party is used to politically motivated appointments in parastatals, civil service, diplomatic missions, specially elected councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs), Bogosi and Land Boards. Usually these positions are distributed as patronage to activists in return for their support and loyalty to the political leadership and the party.

The ruling party contended that when the Minister or the Ministry intervened and ultimately appointed the Land Boards Chairpersons, Deputies and members , he didn’t have information, as this was not information required in the application, on who was politically active and for that reason he could not have known who to not appoint on that basis. They also argued that opposition activists have been appointed to positions in the government.

The counter argument was that there was a reason for the legal requirement of exclusion of political activists and that the government ought to have mechanisms to detect those. The whole argument of “‘we didn’t know who was politically active” was frivolous. The fact is that ruling party activists have been appointed. The opposition also argued that erstwhile activists from their ranks have been recruited through positions and that a few who are serving in public offices have either been bought or hold insignificant positions which they qualified for anyway.

Whilst people should not be excluded from public positions because of their political activism, the ruling party cannot hide the fact that they have used public positions to reward activists. Exclusion of political activists may be a violation of fundamental human or constitutional rights. But, the packing of Land Boards with the ruling party activists is clear political corruption. It seeks to sow divisions in communities and administer land in a politically biased manner.

It should be expected that the ruling party officials applying for land or change of land usage etcetera will be greatly assisted. Since land is wealth, the ruling party seeks to secure resources for its members and leaders. The appointments served to reward 2019 election primary and general elections losers and other activists who have shown loyalty to the leadership and the party.

Running a country like this has divided it in a way that may be difficult to undo. The next government may decide to reset the whole system by replacing many of government agencies leadership and management in a way that is political. In fact, it would be compelled to do so to cleanse the system.

The opposition is also pondering on approaching the courts for review of the decision to appoint party functionaries and the general violation of clearly stated terms of reference. If this can be established with evidence, the courts can set aside the decision on the basis that unqualified people have been appointed.

The political activism aspect may also not be difficult to prove as some of these people are known activists who are in party structures, at least at the time of appointment, and some were recently candidates. There is a needed for civil society organizations such as trade unions and political parties to fight some of these decisions through peaceful protests and courts.

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