The recent uprising of women across the world in response to the death of a young Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, whilst in the custody of the morality policy is an extreme but typical example of state violence against women. Not surprisingly, religion is often used as a weapon to justify such horrid actions. And so, in this world where patriarchy is the leader of governments, the lawmaker, and the judiciary, injustices against women are ignored, praised, and even perpetuated by those same governments.

It’s the ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude
Most atrocities done to women and children are always done in the name of religion, and hence Islamic extremists use sharia law to oppress and violate women’s rights, whilst Christians uses the Bible to deny women their rights. We recently witnessed this in the USA when the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade because legislators who claim to be Christians of high moral standards were up in arms in a quest to dictate to women how their uteruses should operate. The ‘morality police’ of the Christian religion disguised as reproductive rights activists hailed this as victory; their reasoning being that it will help reduce the mortality rate and injuries resultant from abortion procedures. As a woman in Botswana, a country where abortion has always been illegal, I beg to differ and view their utterances as a mere sign of ignorance or patriarchal oppression that is as always, cloaked under the pretense of care and concern.
Statistics will eventually oppose their premature celebrations because, for women living in a country where abortion is illegal, the reality is contrary to their conclusions. The truth is, when abortion is criminalized, more women die, and many more experience life-threatening or permanent injuries from unsafe abortions.

They claim it is to protect us yet…
I fail to understand where the controversy lies because it should be common sense that an abortion performed by a health practitioner is safer. This is because not only do they know what they are doing, but they are also performing the procedure in a sanitary medical facility with sterilized medical utensils. And so, should anything go wrong, the woman will have a better chance of survival because all the resources needed to save her life will be available in that location.

Despite statistics by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) indicating that over sixty-seven percent (67%) of women in Botswana have experienced abuse, two years ago a motion to declare gender-based violence a national emergency, tabled by a young opposition member of parliament was shot down by the minister responsible for gender issues. This is indicative of how the government sees issues of gender-based violence as trivial. Overturning the Roe v. Wade law will not eliminate abortion, rather, it adds to the many other factors that contribute to the high mortality rate of women in Botswana and around the world.

The irony is that, while abortions are illegal, women are  being raped by strangers in the privacy of their homes. Women are being raped by strangers as they walk or jog in broad daylight. Women are being raped by their abusive husbands because patriarchy has created an environment where in a marriage, the husband owns his wife’s body. Yet, society quips sarcastically at the mention of the marital rape case. But worst of all, women are being raped and abused by the same legislators whilst they still stand ‘chest out’ on their religious and moral high grounds.

And yes, legislators are quiet.
I am therefore not surprised by the lax of government in protecting women’s rights. After all, they lead when it comes to trampling those rights. It’s the same legislators we entrust with protecting us that abuse women sexually and physically and get away because of their status in society. And now the same perpetrators use the law to force women to live with them or carry the offspring of those who assaulted them, knowing very well that the system of child maintenance is broken as it also depends on the same legislators to enforce or implement it. So once again, a woman will be left to fend alone for the children of her rapists or choose the more dangerous route of an unsafe abortion.

Today, in Botswana, a young man is in police custody as the only suspect in the killing of two young women who were roommates. It is alleged he drugged them, sexually assaulted them, and then proceeded to slit their throats as they remained unconscious from the drugs he had used to spike their drinks. Many more women have died this year at a rate that seems to surpass the previous years’ cases of gender-based acts of violence. But still, nothing has changed.

There is no action from the government. The amended legislation with steeper penalties meant to deter the potential culprits is yet to be implemented. I am not holding my breath for that to happen as the penalties before were only minimally used if at all. There is also no action from society, and there is no action from the women in Botswana; nothing out of the ordinary though, just typical of patriarchy-brainwashed society. The most that has been done, is being empathetic with and to the perpetrators in custody and their families. As it usually happens in many cases, the victims have no one to speak for them, and their deaths once again, remain in vain.