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UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund Representative to Lesotho Ms Nuzhat Ehsan has emphasized need for a concerted effort to thwart Gender Based Violence (GBV).

Speaking during a meeting to validate results of a drought linked baseline survey, which was held at the United Nations building on Tuesday (07/03/2017), Ms Ehsan called for a joint effort between Non-Governmental Organisations and Civil Society Organisations, law enforcement agencies and the Judiciary as well as United Nations agencies to fight gender based violence.

The Representative expressed gratitude to DFID for providing financial support which enabled the baseline survey, titled “Multi sectoral support to survivors of GBV resulting from El-nino induced drought in Lesotho,” to be undertaken.

“UNFPA saw need to identify and analyze the socio-cultural causes and motivations leading to GBV incidences and prevalence particularly linked to drought by conducting the first ever GBV in emergencies baseline survey,” she added.

She highlighted the vulnerability of women and adolescent girls to gender based violence as during emergencies, they can be separated from their families and communities, increasing their vulnerability to attack.

Speaking at the occasion, the Director of Gender in the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sport and Recreation Mrs ‘Matau Futho Letsatsi said the validation came on the eve of International Women’s Day under the theme #Be Bold for Change. “It is at a time when we have to decide for the ordinary woman, man, girl and boy.”

She outlined how Lesotho’s culture is discriminatory against women2 and girls particularly in various areas such as ownership of land, livestock and forests. She added, “It is a culture which compromises our sexual and reproductive health rights as it is men who decide when to have children and how many of them.” The Director conceded that climate change has exacerbated gender based violence.

Following the current drought situation, the study found that GBV increased during the El Nino drought. Analysis from the 1084 sampled respondents, 575 , (53.8%) indicated that a GBV case incidence occurred in the last 12 months of the study, which confirm an increase during El-Nino.