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Women’s rights are human rights!



ONE of the best perks about being friends with a lawyer is the free legal advice you get from time to time, but only if you are going to reward them with some advice for their client facing trial or anything of that sort.

So this one time I was having a chat with one of my lawyer friends. Then a thought suddenly crossed my mind. I asked her if there are laws that protect women in Lesotho and her answer was somewhere between “for women there is no one consolidated Act like the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act, 2011”. I didn’t ask her any further questions and she didn’t expect any advice at the end of our conversation because she has no case awaiting her presentation.

One would wonder why I’m so concerned about women and laws that may protect them but I will tell you why. Women, or let me say any being that identifies as a female, is naturally born and societally deemed vulnerable in society and this makes them weak and label them “prey” in the eyes of “power hungry” men.

These are men that have no shame in parading the streets and shaming women, calling them names and some even take it further by touching them, harassing them. These are men that have labelled women their prey and take advantage of their vulnerability.

But where are the laws that protect women from such men? Where do women run to when they have encountered something of this sort in the streets or in their society? Please do not think “but they can always report such men to the nearest police station” because it always ends there and the next day the very same “hunter” will be roaming the streets saying something awful about women to another “vulnerable” woman.

I keep referring to women as vulnerable because they, myself included, are capable of being physically and emotionally attacked or wounded. Only a few are brave enough to stand their ground when this happens but it always ends in violence and we know who the winner always is.

But then again not all men are the same but as the old saying goes: If it looks like a dog, acts like a dog, then it is a dog.

I will take you back to one incident where one pregnant lady was walking from downtown to the Stadium Area bus stop. She had dressed how she felt comfortable in the blazing hot day of summer but some men decided she was not dressed accordingly and harassed her until she made it to her destination.

Morally, because our morals are defined by how we dress and conduct ourselves in public, which I find ridiculous because this only applies to women and not men, she was not dressed properly. I hate to say this but we have been made to believe there are proper dress codes than the ones we might feel comfortable in.

Sadly, some women joined in and took videos of the whole event and posted them on social media. That woman needed a specific law that could have helped put her abusers behind bars, even if it could have been for a couple of nights but not in Lesotho where the first thing she could have been asked if she dared reported the incident to any police station would have been “but why did you leave your house dressed like that?”

And I dare you this question would have probably been posed by a male officer. Also, I think we have taken the “freedom of speech” ordeal too far to an extent where we don’t realise when we have crossed boundaries and started violating other people’s rights by harassing them and throwing them in the deep end.

This incident and many other bullying and abusive situations are the reason why parliament should go back to its books and conduct a couple of laws or separate the few that are found in a number of pieces of legislation to protect any woman that may come forth and lay a charge of harassment.

Not that this will stop men from violating women in any way but a least knowing you can find help to stop that man from doing what he did to you to the next woman will make most of us sleep better at night.

The Non-Governmental Organisation, Women and Law, is playing a very important role in women’s lives by lobbying for legal reforms and policy changes on laws and practices that discriminate and disadvantage women and also increasing public awareness of women’s legal rights.

I can’t leave behind She-Hive that is also doing a great job in providing supervisors of gender-based violence with psychosocial support and legal advice.

But it should not end here, everybody involved in the safekeeping of everyone, especially women, should be educated on the rights of women because the only thing we are ever concerned about is the human rights which are moral standards of our behaviour protected by no single code in this country.

Bokang Masasa

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