Earlier this May news broke out on social media that a certain councillor of a village called Sebina had impregnated a 17 year old girl. Facebook messages between this councillor and a certain prominent minister had been leaked. This conversation began with the man who impregnated the young girl asking the minister to help him cover-up this issue as a certain newspaper had already gotten a hold of the story and was set to publish it, they spoke about paying off the newspapers and the young girls parents. The Minister in one of the messages said “Everyone has a price” I was so nauseated by this. I just cannot comprehend how one thinks they can pay someone off after violating them and stripping them off their dignity. They even went as far as saying “Batswana ba lebala” meaning Batswana forget easily. Moreover, they spoke about how this will be old news by the time it is election year.
Not even a week had gone by when the councillor’s niece revealed that her uncle had raped her as well as other girls in the village of Sebina. Did this ignite a fire in my fellow countrymen? It sure did!
A nation-wide campaign dubbed #IShallNotForget began as a way of seeking justice for our children.
Most Batswana expected that the Councillor would be charged with statutory rape however he was not given the fact that the young girl was over the age of 16 years and our law says you can consent to carnal knowledge when you are over the age of 16 which I find ludicrous if I might add. I also strongly believe that the law pertaining to this needs to be reviewed. Look at it from this very simple yet forthright point of view, our law says:
You can only get your driver’s license at 18 years
You can only consume alcohol at 21 years old
The question then becomes, how can a 16 year old consent to sexual intercourse? Laws are put in place to protect citizens of a country amongst other things. Children are clearly not protected by our laws.
Child Abuse is very prevalent in our country. Most of these perpetrators are family members: Fathers, Uncles, and Cousins just to name a few, continue to sexually abuse children both the boy child and the girl child. It pains me that this has been normalised. Families choose to be quiet about this, when children speak up they are told “shut up, you will embarrass the family” thus children fear speaking up about the violence committed against them because it was instilled in them that it’s their fault or for fear of being labelled a liar. But the truth is remaining silent has never gotten us anyway it has only perpetuated rape culture in our communities. The end results being, broken children and perpetrators walk freely. Which is why speaking up about these issues is of grave importance. We need to tackle these issues of statutory rape, incest and defilement and seek justice for our young innocent children.
The #IShallNotForget Movement has created a national wide phenomenon of sanitisation on matters of child abuse all over the country are involved in this campaign. The pictures of students holding placards just warmed my heart. Also, everyday Batswana are at traffic lights holding placards as a way of spreading the word that as a nation we need to stand together and fight for our children, when I go to the Facebook page called “Women and Men against Child Abuse” abuse I am in awe because this movement is now global. People all around the world are showing support for this movement, some people are opening up and sharing their stories, they are exposing the injustice that happened to them, the injustice they kept hidden for so long. The injustice they pretended did not happen to them. They are speaking up and saying Enough is Enough!
The #IShallNotForget campaign was to have a march but they were prohibited from marching by the Botswana Police Service, this ended up in the High Court, the High Court gave its ruling in their favour and granted them the right to march. This is undeniably a landmark case!
We will proceed to March on Saturday 6th June 2016. The dress code is white t-shirts with blue ribbons.