Report prepared by: Dr Tsayang (UB, Member of the Executive Committee and Coordinator of the Event), Prof. Sheldon Weeks (Hon. Secretary of the Society and Co-organizer of the Event), & Mrs Nonofho Mathibidi Ndobochani (National Museum, Assistant Secretary of the Society and co-organizer of the event)
The Botswana Society, in partnership with the National Museum, organized a panel discussion on the topical issue of ‘passion killings’, to facilitate exchange of ideas between professionals on this issue of national concern. The discussion, which received a good audience, was held on the 18th May 2006 at the National Museum's Little Theatre. The panelists were Mr Logong Raditlhokwa (Social Work University of Botswana), Mr Bongi Radipati (Law UB), Ms Kaboyaone Hiri-Khudu (Social Work UB), Ms Keletso Makgekgenene (Women’s Affairs Department, Government of Botswana), Mr Rantefe Mothebe (a member of public). The discussion was chaired by Dr. Godisang Mookodi (Sociology UB).
Generally, issues discussed centred around the fact that ‘passion killing’ or femicide is becoming institutionalized but the level of response to the issue is not equivalent to the challenge. Speakers associated this with family problems, changing values, loss of traditional patriarchy, failure by victims and perpetrators to meet society's expectations, social change that has not attracted with it appropriate interventions, poor management of the transformation that is brought about by globalization, and general loss of our inherited culture as a society.
"Passion Killings" panel discussion: the panel members
Sharing his views on the issue, Raditlhokwa highlighted:
Passion killings are an institutionalized form of violence, and our level of response should be equivalent to the challenge. As a nation, we are not making progress with the problem because we continue to view 'passion killings' as a personal/ individual problem, or we relegate them to family responsibility as opposed to seeing it a societal problem.
He also raised the issue of whether there is political will to face up to 'passion killings' as a societal problem. Society needs to be sensitized to the issue, so that meaningful interventions can be made.
The other issue he touched on was that of losing our values as a society/ nation. Where are the values that used to keep us together – listening to, respecting, and obeying each other? In the past there was a traditional patriarchy in which people knew how to conduct themselves. But traditional systems have been eroding away, and there have been no strategies as to how to replace them.
Definition: How does the issue fit in the legal framework?
Justice: How do we respond to the killings, and how would we punish the killers/ victimizers?
Remedy: What is the legal stance, do we need more laws? Is it the issue of morality? Is it a psychological problem
In concluding his argument, Radipati associated the main cause of the problem to lack of communication between victims, victimizers and the society.
Khudu’s main argument was that suicide and ‘passion killings’ are indicators of a range of problems. There are three main causes: individual behavioral problems (mood disorders), individual failure to meet societal expectations, and family problems (diseases, divorces, identity crisis)
She argued that we all suffer from globalization and social change, but there are no interventions and structures in place to manage them. Do we have enough professionals, and are they doing their role effectively? There is need to educate society on the best interventions
She noted that there is need to understand who we are, and how we should respond to social transformation. There are issues of ;
Law/ legal parameters that cannot solve problems, as they only deal with the effect (result) and not the cause.
Institutionalization of issues
The system of patriarchy where older men are heads of families and make all decisions, including those that oppress women--sometimes leading to women being killed
The nature of family life in transformation, but we have not learned how to respond and we apply laws willynilly which do not go the roots of the problem.
Mothebe argued that we are not united in a single culture: we all exist as individuals. He raised the following issues;
Youths have run out of control and they don’t listen to anybody: that is why they kill
We need to go back to our roots, to revive the role of parents and of chiefs in raising children. Let all the elderly be parents to all youths, and let's bring our children to order
We need to reinstate our traditional structures which kept society together.
Discussion by the audience centered around the following issues;
How do we select role models, shouldn’t we be selective? Who do our victimizers imitate?
Why can’t we hold on to our family values: families are the foundation of a responsible society?
Even if we want to respond to globalization, we need to always remember that our culture and values are the basis for our existence.
Traditional leaders are or should be the basis for traditional morality
Society is so intolerant that even older people kill each other and themselves
How are our socialization and the legal framework structured: who is superior and who is not?
We should accept and love ourselves in order to be tolerant of others
If this is a psychological problem, where do professionals counselors come in: can we change the name and structure of "mental" hospitals to cater for counselling?
If ‘passion killings’ are a result of social change: what are we doing to manage and balance that change. Do we have any strategies in place?
We need the family as the foundation and role model to teach us to love, respect and value ourselves
The boy child is not brought up properly. Boys are not taught to accept themselves and to accept failure. The girl child is allowed more time to express and appreciate herself and her feelings than the boy child. For example, girls can spend more time in front of the mirror appreciating themselves. If the boy-child does the same, he is generally ridiculed and reminded that he is a man. So boys are not given the opportunity to explore and get to know themselves. The girl child is pampered, and the boy child is left to go his own way with other boys.
Are men’s perspectives incorporated in the socialization process and made known to both men and women?
We should learn to communicate and express ourselves to those who matter to us, lest we go out and believe that the only way to solve our problems is by taking our lives
Family is the fount of morality, and the backbone of society. But the family is gradually disintegrating, as evidenced by increased immorality, Extra-marital affairs and divorces do not set a good example for the love relationships of youth.
Generally, discussion centred around the need to strengthen the role of families, and on the roles of politicians and churches in maintaining societal values. The way forward was to call upon these institutions to face up to their responsibility in restoring social values.
"Passion Killings" panel discussion: panel members facing the audience
Last updated 20 March 2008. Converted from MS Word by OpenOffice 2.0, with some modifications.