Gaborone — Religious leaders have been urged to give teachings that emphasise gender equality and self-esteem as well as ensure there was no misinterpretation of scriptural texts that might exacerbate domestic violence.
This was said by First Lady Neo Masisi at a Faith Based Organisations (FBO) capacity building workshop on gender based violence (GBV) in Gaborone on December 7.
As custodians of religion, religious leaders must teach against abuse and empower congregants to value their own relationships to ensure strong family structures, she said.
She encouraged them to introduce GBV programmes catering for both victims and perpetrators.
Such programmes, she said, should provide safe spaces for survivors within institutions, encourage and support women to stand for leadership positions.
The First Lady challenged religious leaders and congregants to address stigma faced by victims and survivors when they came forward.
In addition, she urged them to do away with the silence surrounding GBV issues.
Ms Masisi also said religious leaders should be trained on GBV.
The First Lady applauded the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs and FBO for organising the workshop which she said was a response to the call made by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi in September for Batswana to collectively address challenges posed by GBV.
It was especially admirable that FBO headed the call for collective efforts in fighting escalating incidences of GBV including the brutal killing of women and defilement of children, the First Lady said.
She said the gathering was more than relevant as activities continued to be cascaded by stakeholders countrywide in an effort to sensitise the public about GBV.
“It is important to indicate that all forms of violence are an offence against humanity. Violence is therefore associated with wickedness and it should be condemned as detestable even to the creator,” said Ms Masisi.
She stated that only the creator gave life and no one else had the right or authority to take it away from another human being.
FBO chairperson Ms Bonolo Mmereki-Burns said FBOs were well positioned to drive GBV prevention, protection, care and support programmes in communities because they were close to people on the ground.
She said the organisations’ mission was to lessen human suffering and were also responsible for providing a social safety net through psycho-social support and counselling.
The workshop was part of the 16 Days of Activism against GBV themed: “Unite to End GBV Now!”.
Ms Mmereki-Burns said in line with theme, FBOs needed to join hands to address GBV which had proven to be a pandemic amid another pandemic, COVID-19.
She explained that the objective of the workshop was to raise public awareness on GBV and to stimulate debate on its prevention within the faith sector.
It was also aimed at establishing the role that could be played by the sector in the prevention, protection and support of GBV victims and survivors as well as in rehabilitation and re-integration of GBV ex-offenders, she said.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>