AU commends Lesotho

AU commends Lesotho

Staff Reporter

 

MASERU

 

THE African Union (AU) recognised Lesotho as one of 13 countries that strongly upholds women’s rights at a summit held in Rwanda last month.

The summit’s theme was Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Africa.

Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing told a press conference on Tuesday that the recognition is a sign that Lesotho is on the right path.

He said the laws Lesotho has enacted to protect women’s rights and the leadership’s political will to uplift women made the AU recognise the seriousness with which the country takes human rights.

“It is encouraging indeed and shows that we are treading on the right path as a country,” he said.

He however admitted that the recongnition comes at a time when Lesotho is facing many challenges of human rights abuses against women and girls as evidenced by many reports of gender-based violence at police stations.

“This is an unfortunate situation which we have to fight against as the nation. It shifts away from what we are supposed to be as human beings,” he said.

Sharing Metsing’s sentiments, Foreign Affairs Minister Tlohang Sekhamane said the continued trampling of the rights of women and girls taints the good image of Basotho and their values.

Sekhamane appealed to all, especially men, to lead in the fight to protect women’s rights and teach each other the importance of observing such rights.

Gender-Links’ study of 2015 has found that in Lesotho 86 percent of women experienced some form violence by men at least once in their lifetime, including partner and non-partner violence.

The organisation also found that 40 percent of men perpetrated violence against women at least once in their lifetime.

It says violence against women is predominantly perpetrated within intimate relationships.

Sixty-two percent of women experienced gender violence, while 37 percent of men perpetrated, intimate partner violence.

The Gender-Links has however found that Lesotho has made considerable strides in an effort to attain gender equity and equality.

“It is signatory to, and has ratified, the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development adopted by Heads of State in August 2008,” the study report reads.

Lesotho enacted the Sexual Offences Act (SOA) in 2003.

The study found that a major lack in addressing violence against women in Lesotho has been the absence of domestic violence legislation.

“Despite commendable efforts, women still experience violence perpetrated by men in both their private and public lives,” it reads.

It says the predominant form of violence within intimate relationships is emotional violence, which includes insults, belittling and verbal abuse.

For all forms of violence, a lower proportion of men admitted to perpetration, the study found.

The findings also show that violence is highly prevalent in current relationships.

These findings confirm that violence in intimate relationships is rife in Lesotho.

Both Metsing and Sekhamane concured that women’s rights are human rights and threfore are protected by the constitutions and the international human rights articles.

Metsing said the award Lesotho got in Rwanda was based on the commitment of the country’s leadership towards protecting women.

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