Study takes economic stock of GBV



MASERU – Commonwealth warns Lesotho to take action on violence against women and girls or risk losing M34 715 million annually, equivalent to 1.333% of GDP.

Commonwealth consultant Dr Bazlul Khondker said one out of three women experienced violence sometime in their life.

He said from 2012, 54 000 deaths were experienced in the country due to violence against women and adolescent girls.

Khondker also noted that in 2017, Lesotho lost almost 5.548% of GDP due to gender-based violence.

He said private sector is not immune to the cost of violence against women and girls as output loss per year is 2% of GDP, equivalent to M675.6 million.

Khondker said the costs are for registration and administration of GBV cases, cost of service calls by police, protection of victims, probation cases and arrests, evictions, long-term detention and many others.

He added violence against women and girls also results in income loss from household activities.

Commonwealth, in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Youth Sports and Recreation carried out a study that revealed the said income loss.

Commonwealth encourages Lesotho through the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, to formulate strategies to fight violence against women and girls using approaches which focus on the three important aspects of prevention, provision and protection.

“The government should again formulate dedicated training for relevant government officials and other stakeholders to institutionalise the costing model,” he said.

He further noted that in order to eliminate violence against women and girls, capacity of all stakeholders dealing with gender-based violence should be strengthened with dedicated training programmes, digitisation of data and statistics and better co-ordination of work by different agencies involved in tackling GBV.

Khondker said a multi-sector approach should be considered for GBV which should include speedy enactment of a Gender Based Violence draft, initiation of a school bill (as it has implications on GBV) and also replace some section of the Marriage Act of 1974.

“Efforts should be undertaken to gather data and statistics on some of the weaker areas such as reasons behind absenteeism in schools such that learning time lost measurement is improved.

“The data collection should also show the flow of Gender Based Violence information among various agencies related to gender based violence,” he said.

Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, Mahali Phamotse, said combating violence against women and girls is aligned with protocols Lesotho has signed, which means Lesotho as a signatory to the conventions on human rights has a responsibility to ensure gender-based violence is eradicated and all people, especially women and girls, are protected against violence.

She said the revelation by the Commonwealth study calls for immediate action through which she, through her ministry, will embark on a project to ensure protection of women and girls.

“Gender Based Violence is a problem in Lesotho that keeps one awake wondering how they will ever overcome it. It affects national development. Our country is in a crisis as women and girls are killed day and night,” she said.

She said the study will help Lesotho come up with appropriate strategies that will help eradicate gender-based violence as they are now aware of its causes and economic implications.

Phamotse said knowing the impact of gender-based violence will enable them to target and concentrate on people and issues that need intervention.

“The study helped answer questions like causes of gender-based violence in Lesotho and at individual level, its impact and causes in relation to productivity, at the workplace, at community level and at national level.

“We are also, through this study, able to see the roles of sectors working towards eradicating gender-based violence and what needs to be done to intervene.

“The study will also help parliamentarians to know their role in helping fight gender based violence,” Mahali said.

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