I’m a victim of GBV: First Lady

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Nthatuoa Koeshe

FIRST Lady Masekoalane Majoro has revealed that she is a victim of gender-based violence (GBV).

Ms Majoro said as a woman in patriarchal society, she had been subjected to various forms of abuse and at one time a male manager demanded sexual favours to give her a job that she was well-qualified for.

She said as a result of her own experiences and the still pervasive culture of GBV, she constantly worries about the future of her children as they are likely to be scarred by similar experiences.

Ms Majoro made the revelations at this week’s National Prayer against Gender Based Violence (GBV) event at ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru.

Her husband Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro, Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu, ministers, Matebatso Doti (Social Development), Likeleli Tampane (Gender, Youth, Sport and Recreation), Keketso Rantšo (Labour and Employment), the Speaker of Parliament, Sephiri Motanyane all attended the even along with opposition politicians like former Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) country representative, Marc Derveeuw, also attended the event which was held as part of the commemorations of the 16 days against gender-based violence.

Speaking at the event, Ms Majoro said she had also been subjected to GBV and described the practice as a scourge which needed to be rooted out.

“I too, am a victim of GBV and I have been affected by different kinds of abuse,” Ms Majoro said.

She recounted her youthful experiences when one male manager demanded sex before hiring her for a public administration job she had applied for. She said many women find themselves in similar situations of being asked for sexual favours to be given jobs they were more than qualified for in the first place.

She deplored such practices and said society must work hard to eliminate them.

“My first job application required someone who had studied public administration but to my surprise the manager’s only requirement for the position was for me to satisfy him.

“Deserving women are abused to get into certain positions in the workplace which they are already qualified for and that is just sad.

“GBV is quite pervasive. If I was to ask people who are affected by GBV to show themselves, we would be surprised at the number of women who are victims.

“I constantly tell my children about these stories of abuse and I worry about their safety because we live in a world full of sin. I wonder who will protect them,” Ms Majoro said.

By her own admission, Ms Majoro is a high-profile victim of GBV. Many more ordinary Basotho women have been affected and continue to suffer from GBV especially at the hands of their spouses, relatives and other people they know.

Some of the victims have even lost their lives in the most gruesome manner.

One such victim is ‘Makhutlang Lesekele (nee ‘Maleshoane Tukula) who was murdered allegedly by her boyfriend in Kholokoe, Leribe in July this year.

Her dismembered body parts were discovered by herdboys in bushy area.

Earlier this year, a female student at Lerotholi Polytechnic, Manyai Theoha, was gang-raped and murdered in Thabong, Maseru.

Enraged by the horrific incident, the villagers took the law into their own hands the next day and killed two of the men suspected of raping and murdering the student.

Before that in July 2019, five women were gunned down in the middle of the night by unknown gunmen at Rothe, Maseru. It was reported that the gunmen moved from house-to-house, mowing down all they met in the night. By the following morning, at least five women had been shot dead, with another woman sustaining serious injuries.

The police said they had launched a manhunt for the gunmen but no arrests have been made to date.

In May 2018, a 35-year-old Roman Catholic priest allegedly gunned down a nun at the Maryland Mission in Leribe.

Sources said this could have been a crime of passion as the two were in a romantic relationship despite the Catholic church’s celibacy stipulations.

The sources said the nun, also aged 35, was shot dead allegedly because the priest could not stomach her attempts to end what was said to be an abusive relationship. In a clear illustration of the incompetence and hopelessness of Lesotho’s criminal justice system, the case has not been successfully prosecuted despite that it was a straight forward criminal act which did not require elaborate investigations.

Before that in January 2018, the Ntširele community in Khubetsoana, Maseru were shocked by the brutal murder of prominent businesswoman ‘Mathabang Radiile (53), allegedly by her live-in partner, Lebohang Nkuebe (41).

Ms Radiile’s four-month-old grand-daughter was seriously injured after being sprayed with acid in one of the most gruesome cases of women and child abuse in Lesotho.

Lebohang Nkuebe subsequently appeared in court over the murder and the case was abandoned by the police despite that he had confessed to the gruesome act. In fact, the only contribution by the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) was to dispatch one of their corrupt detail, one Kubutu Kubutu, to rush and facilitate bail for Nkuebe. This was done without any consultations with the family of the victim.  Kubutu, who was the investigating officer, appear to have disappeared the docket. He never even attended the crime scene nor interviewed any witnesses.

The violence and killings are part of wider global scourge which the World Bank says affects one in every three women.

In April 2018, the World Bank published an article which showed that globally, as many as 38 percent of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.

“One characteristic of Violence against Women and Girls is that it knows no social or economic boundaries: this issue needs to be addressed in both developing and developed countries, and affects women of all socio-economic backgrounds.

“When speaking about violence against women and girls, it is important to remember that this issue involves both men and women and requires a holistic approach. The overwhelming majority of violence is perpetrated by men, and addressing male perpetration is a critical part of addressing the violence,” the World Bank states in its article titled ‘Violence against Women and Girls’,” the World Bank said.

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