Maseru – The Ministry of Social Development has extended support for an 11-year-old girl child who is a victim of rape through the Lesotho Child Counselling Unit which will provide psychosocial support. On February 28, the Magistrate in the Children’s Court convicted Rets’elisitsoe Stephen Thoahlane who was the Community-Based Rehabilitation Manager under the Ministry of Social Development.
Thoahlane was convicted together with his son who was also found guilty of sexually abusing the same child under their care and protection. They were both slapped with 15 years imprisonment each. As the world commemorated International Women’s Day this week, UNICEF Lesotho released a statement condemning the sexual abuse of the minor.
“While this is a shocking case of having someone entrusted in a role of providing support to children being found guilty of abusing a girl in his care, we fear that this type of sexual violence perpetrated by someone close to a child is more widespread than often believed. Sexual violence remains highly under-reported, particularly among those living with disabilities.”
In the same statement, UNICEF noted that it stands by partners working to end violence against women, girls, and children, further noting that it remains committed to working with the government, partners, and civil society to strengthen the capacity of social workers, outreach community workers, and law enforcement officers to support survivors of sexual violence.
“…We must collectively do more to end violence against women and children and support survivors to seek justice and healing. Every child in Lesotho has the right to live and grow up in a world free from violence,” read the statement.
Previously Thoahlane served the Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled (LNFOD) in the leadership role and is also a member of the Lesotho National Federation of the Physically Disabled (LNAPD) and has continued to work with the LNFOD through his position in the ministry of Social Development.
LNFOD has since released a statement saying “We accordingly call upon the nation and all stakeholders not to lose focus. Persons with disabilities are human beings and as such are equal to all of us, irrespective of gender. Therefore, let us all focus on the real monster, gender inequality, which has formed a strong base for gender-based violence prevalence in Lesotho.”