Youth Towards Excellence (YTE) will be launching their “Not on my watch” fight against Gender Based Violence campaign on Saturday. The campaign comprises of two aims which are ‘school based interventions’ such as workshops, peer to peer education and presentations to deal with Gender Based Violence from the roots, and the second one is to advocate for a ‘month of youth against Gender Based Violence’ which will see the youth leading in all activities that deal with Gender Based Violence in order to raise a generation that will not watch as their fellow people get violated.
Youth towards Excellence is an NGO that develop leadership skills and advocates for women’s rights, as well as educating the community about issues affecting women and children. The ‘Not on my Watch’ campaign manager Ms Katlego Sengadi says this campaign is necessary because there are still some cases of Gender Based Violence that happen in the public eye, and people tend to look the other way or just watch without defending the victims.
“With reference to the Gaborone Bus rank incident, there were many people at the bus rank at the time the young lady was violated. Everybody stood there watching, some laughing and some cursing. It was so disheartening to see that no one protected that young lady. It makes you wonder what kind of society we have created, where no one is protected, a society where men and women can laugh as one of their own kind is being violated, a society where Gender Based Violence is so “normal” that it can happen in the eyes of the public and no one stops it’, she exclaims.
Sengadi further highlights how the Bus Rank incident proves just how common Gender Based Violence is and how much culture in a way allows for it to happen.
“Botswana is a society deeply rooted on patriarchal ideologies which means, society/culture puts much emphasis on a man’s masculinity and power over his woman. These ideologies have led to high levels of domestic violence in our country. However, exact statistics are still hard to know because people do not report to the relevant authorities whenever they are being abused. If you are a woman and you leave your home because you are abused the cultural stereotype is that, ‘o paletswe ke lwapa, o re tlhabisa ditlhong, batho ba tla reng?’if you are a man, ‘ga o monna tia, o bokoa”, she adds.
YTE team during a wellness session where they announced their campaign launch
She says that young people need to take charge in creating a better society for the upcoming generation.
“We want to create a society where people are empowered enough to know that it is not right to show power or domination over a woman by violating them. We also want a society where a man can come out to say they are being violated without their masculinity being questioned.” she says.
Sengadi says they want men at the forefront of the campaign because they are highly the perpetrators of Gender Based Violence and having them on board will help spread the massage because it is easier for men to relate to one another. She further explains that this also for men to drop the idea that power over women is a sign of masculinity and learn that masculinity can still be demonstrated in respectful and healthy ways.
"This is a way to engage men in a constructive and a non-confronting way. Through this campaign we hope to engage everyone in the society in the fight against Gender Based Violence. The only way we can win the fight against GBV is if all leaders and stakeholders invest heavily into a national response to GBV. Through our month of Youth Against GBV , we want to engage youth beyond the 16 days of activism against GBV so that every single day is a fight against GBV that will make everyday a chance to save a life”, she highlights.
Sengadi advices thus, “There is nothing right about staying in a relationship where you see your life is being threatened. GBV does not come without warning, today it is a slap on the face, tomorrow it is a smash against the wall and the next day your life will be lost. There are so many places you can get help from. Talk to someone you trust. It is better to leave an unhealthy relationship with a broken heart because with time you will heal. Death however, is not reversible."
The launch will start from 0830 am with a march to the bus rank, followed by an aerobics session by Shakes Ranna of Sunday Wellness, and an address by Ame Mokoba of The Journey Television show.