Gender-based violence (GBV) is considered the most prevalent human rights violation globally. In Eswatini, rates of GBV, violence against children and child sexual assault are alarmingly high. The mechanisms needed to prevent and respond to these atrocities, and the legal framework necessary to punish those who perpetrate these acts are inadequate and, in some cases, entirely non-existent.
In Eswatini, it is expected that one in three Swazi girls will experience some form of sexual violence by the time they are 18 years old, while almost half of Swazi women will experience some form of sexual violence over their lifetime. Intimate partners, such as husbands and boyfriends, are most likely to be the perpetrators of sexual violence against women, making a woman’s home often a very dangerous place.
Rates of violence against children and child sexual abuse in eSwatini are staggering, with nearly nine in ten children experiencing some form of physical violence or psychological aggression.
A Call for Renewed Action to End Violence Against Women!
The increasing reports of alleged sexual violence and other forms of abuse in tertiary institutions should not be an institutional concern and burden. SWAGAA calls for a renewed public action to end violence in all its forms. With the recently enacted Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act of 2018 in place, the public call towards ending violence should continue to accelerate a total eradication to Gender Based Violence.
Of primary importance is for all institutions and workplaces to create and sustain a preventive and responsive environment to GBV. One which would also ensure that survivors know what to do when violated, who to speak to and that their safety and integrity will be upheld throughout the process of recourse and healing. SWAGAA emphasizes that it is imperative to ‘break the silence’ shrouding GBV while simultaneously providing support mechanism for prevention and provision of comprehensive care and support to survivors. When support systems are in place and information regarding services and access is properly disseminated, the likelihood to remain silent is reduced significantly.
Absence of a safe and supportive environment for a survivor of GBV, especially rape, has serious negative implications for the healing process. Rape trauma syndrome (RTS) results from the ordeal experienced by the survivor. The manifestations of RTS are worsened when the perpetrator is in close proximity to the survivor and seen from time to time. Thus the organization commends the University for promptly responding to the suspension of the alleged perpetrators while investigations are underway.
The SWAGAA team is also available to provide support to the survivors based on their needs and further engage relevant authorities within the institution.