- Adults have sex while children sleep in same room

- Some elders having sex with the children they live with

Defilement and teenage pregnancy remain a serious problem in the Ghanzi District, leading to many girls dropping out of school.

In most homesteads, families are overcrowded with at least eight members of an extended family sharing a room. The model behaviour in such homesteads is also influenced by the lifestyle, according to Botswana Gender Based Violence Prevention and Support Centre (BGBVC).

This is an area that is occupied by Basarwa, Baherero and Bakgalagadi.

Outreach Officer at BGBVC Ghanzi District, Seabotseng Bafeletse says the situation does not look good as some young girls are forced to become mothers or to engage in sexual affairs at a tender age.

Some of these homesteads brew traditional alcohol for survival purposes and this means that young people also get exposed to alcohol abuse.

Bafeletse adds that young girls also find themselves being taken advantage of by older men who use financial power to exploit them sexually.

“Children are exposed to sexual intercourse as elders have sex in the same room where everyone else is sleeping. Children grow up thinking that it is just normal,” he says, adding that some family members even sleep with young people within their homesteads.

Police statistics indicate that in 2020, 41 defilement cases were recorded, with 27 teenage pregnancy cases, while 25 defilement cases and 13 pregnancy cases were recorded in 2021. This year so far 10 defilement cases have been recorded with six pregnancy cases.

Bafeletse tells The Midweek Sun that they often do GBV screening, and the results continue to show that there are many underlying issues that young women are not at liberty to discuss.

“We have observed that they are not open to speak out and during these screening times, we realise that most of them are sexually abused and it even extends to their children,” he says, emphasising that they have observed that there is sexual, physical, financial and economic abuse among these communities.

“Some young girls engage in sexual relations with men in exchange of money,” he says. Bafeletse adds that what disturbs them more is that these men do not use protection, hence the rising number of teenage pregnancies that often go unreported.

He also highlights that the fact that there has been shortage of condoms in the country also contributed to the rising numbers of teenage pregnancy.

“Only three out of five of these cases may be reported, as most of these children don’t go to school and are not aware that what is happening to them is wrong,” Bafeletse says. He adds that those in school end up dropping out due to teenage pregnancy, while some just leave school for no apparent reason.

“There are no birth registrations for most of these young girls in the region as they do not go to school,” he adds. He says that Intimate Partner Violence is also very common in this region. Some elderly residents have also complained of being abused by their children.

“Seventy percent of the elderly are abused by young people,” he says.