Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) says action should be taken against perpetrators of sexual abuse and exploitation of children including those who fail to protect children from these crimes.Following the Sebina saga in which the councillor of the village allegedly impregnated a 16-year-old girl, BONELA has urged the Ministry of Education and Skills Development and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to address the issue of teenage pregnancy.
BONELA urged the two ministries to devise programmes to prevent the sexual exploitation of children, in order to ensure the protection of children from sexual exploitation. According to the Policy and Legal Advisor of BONELA, Phaza Molebatsi, their concern as an organization that works for the promotion and protection of children’s rights who are vulnerable, is that leaders must be held accountable in this matter.
“In our letter we among other things and in pursuit of justice for the child, we called upon both Ministries to hold duty bearers accountable as prescribed by Section 25 (2) of the Children’s Act which outlaws failure by parents, teachers and any other persons to report a case of child abuse or exploitation or conniving with a person who sexually abuses or exploits a child,” explained Molebatsi. He said that up to date no official address has been issued in respect of the reports, except for the statements issued by leaders about themselves and not the child.
“We would have expected responsible government departments to advise us of measures taken towards the issue,” said Molebatsi. BONELA also lamented that up to now their letter regarding clarification on the Children’s Act which states that ‘a child is a person below the age of eighteen years’ in order to judge clearly and protect children has not been responded to.
“We are disappointed to inform you that that to date we have not received any response or at least an acknowledgement of receipt of our letter. We therefore sense that the two ministries are not determined to address this issue and seek justice for this child or any other children who find themselves in this kind of situation,” he said.
On the other hand, BONELA in partnership with Ndadi law firm embarked on a fact-finding mission that entailed a trip to Sebina. They found that indeed the girl is pregnant with the councillor’s child. “We have now determined that the girl is indeed pregnant and that she fell pregnant after attaining the age of 16 years, laying to rest the speculation that she may have been defiled” states BONELA.