BEREA – ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane says an ABC government would come down severely on perpetrators of gender-based violence and ensure they get life sentences for violence against women and girls.
Dr Thabane said this while addressing a rally in Berea to drum up support for the ABC ahead of snap elections that were announced by King Letsie III in the aftermath of the opposition bloc’s successful no confidence vote against the Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven parties’ coalition government on 1 March.
Dr Thabane’s remarks came against the background of mounting international calls for politicians and governments to prioritise the crafting and implementation of strategies to end gender-based violence.
The regional non-profit making Gender Links put Lesotho’s gender-based violence prevalence at 86 percent and recently said the most effective way to fight violence against women was a clear demonstration of political commitment backed by action and resources.
The organisation said political commitment entailed a legal structure that upheld the rights of women and children, ensuring that it was implemented optimally.
“Political will is also evident in speeches made by influential politicians,” Gender Links stated in a recent publication titled The Gender-Based Violence Indicators Study.
And on Sunday, Dr Thabane condemned violence against women and girls in Lesotho, saying if elected into office, an ABC government would work to ensure that perpetrators got life imprisonment.
The former premier said Lesotho’s freedom from hardships and sufferings like violence against women (VOW) entirely depended on voters and that they must vote his party in large numbers.
“Basotho, do you really want to live in peace, harmony and in comfort,” Dr Thabane asked.
“Do you want Lesotho removed from the international statistics which say it is the poorest country in the world? Young people, are you seriously saying women should not be walking freely from church or any other commitments for fear of being raped by half men?
“I swear to God that men who rape are not real men. Don’t you think we can win this war by seeking intervention from heaven and ask God to free Lesotho?”
He said it was appalling that women and girls were continuing to suffer at the hands of men who stopped at nothing until they violated the former’s basic human rights.
“I am announcing to you that when ABC is elected into power after the elections, we are going to stop at nothing to ensure that anyone found guilty raping a woman will face the wrath of the law.
“When we become government, ABC and its partners are going to work hard to ensure that parliament enacts a law that will ensure that convicted rapists get heavy sentences.
“We will further ensure the law prescribes a minimum sentence for convicted rapists and that no judge will deliver a sentence below that minimum. Rapists must not live among us, they must die in prison. Such persons do not have a place in the society, they belong with wild animals. A dog respects itself compared to a rapist,” Dr Thabane said.
He said that he would rather befriend a dog than a rapist, adding that his party’s alliance with Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) would ensure that women and girls’ rights were protected.
He said the alliance was working hard to end Dr Mosisili’s regime and ensure that women and girls lived freely in the country.