Sexual and gender based violence in Lesotho
The problem is fuelled by the culture of silence and stigmatisation associated with the scourge. Lesotho has one of the world's highest rates of HIV infection. Gender inequality and gender-based violence continue to contribute to the escalating spread of HIV in Lesotho. This is compounded by the low socio-economic status and legal position of women and cultural norms and values. Generally, women are not empowered to make decisions affecting their lives.
86% of surveyed women reported experience of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in their lifetime, and 41% of men affirming they have committed GBV. Saddening, is the fact that much of this violence occurs in the home - a place where women should feel safest. 69% of women revealed that they have been violated by their partners, while 41% of men confirm this. 86% of women experienced some form of Violence against Women (VAW) at least once in their lifetime, including partner and non-partner violence. 40% of men perpetrated VAW at least once in their lifetime. VAW is predominantly perpetrated within intimate relationships. 62% of women experienced, while 37% of men perpetrated, intimate partner violence (IPV).
The forms of violence experienced include physical, sexual, psychological and economical abuse. The predominant form of violence within intimate relationships is emotional violence, which includes insults, belittling and verbal abuse. More than half (52%) of women experienced, and 27% of men perpetrated, emotional IPV in their lifetime. Women also reported physical IPV (40%), economic IPV (30%) and sexual IPV (24%). For all forms of violence, a lower proportion of men admitted to perpetration: emotional IPV (27%), physical IPV (26%), economic IPV (13%) and sexual IPV (10%). Women also reported experience of other forms of GBV, including non-partner rape, sexual harassment and abuse during pregnancy. 8% of women were raped by a non-partner in their lifetime. 63% of women, who had ever worked, had been sexually harassed in the workplace.
What Lesotho is doing now
Lesotho has made considerable strides in its effort to attain gender equity and equality. However, there are still some glaring challenges facing the country in terms of its gender dynamics, as well as in terms of its policy and legal frameworks. Lesotho is signatory to, and has ratified, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Gender and Development Protocol adopted by Heads of State in August 2008. Lesotho enacted the Sexual Offences Act of 2003 in line with provisions of the Protocol that specify, inter alia, that signatories should adopt and implement gender sensitive educational policies and programmes, addressing gender stereotypes in education and GBV. There are, however, challenges in capacity for enforcement of the Act. The Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sport and Recreation has initiated several interventions in accordance with the gender component of the 5th Country Programme of Cooperation between the Government of Lesotho and the United Nations Population Fund 2008-2012. Several activities were undertaken to build capacity of government and civil society organisations to prevent gender-based violence, improve management and care of survivors and promote the rights of women and girls. One such intervention was the Measures to Counteract Violence Against Women (One-stop Centres) Project.
Find organizations that support SGBV victims below.