Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender or strength. Emotional abuse is often minimized yet it can leave deep and lasting scars and very common within the same sex relationships. The bottom line is that abusive behaviour is never acceptable whether it’s coming from a man, woman, transgender, teenager or an older adult.
Domestic violence in the LGBTI community is a serious issue, although most of the cases are left unreported due to the system which is often oppressive and hostile towards LGBTI leading those involved in violence in fear to reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Same sex abuse, pattern of violence or behaviours exists where one seeks to control the thoughts, beliefs or conduct of their intimate partner or to punish their partner for resisting their control. The violence may come in the form of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal.
Inasmuch as the Botswana Network on Ethic Law and HIV/Aids (Bonela) has done trainings with service providers on the domestic violence acts there is still a huge gap in the police department. The act provides the protection of any person in a domestic relationship and does not exclude those in same sex relationship. The act deals with orders and an applicant may apply to court for either interim, restraining or tenancy order and can be issued immediately depending on the serious risk of harm.
An interim order may direct a police officer or deputy sheriff to remove the applicant from the residence. The order could also prohibit the respondent from committing an act of domestic violence or entering specific parts of the residence. It could also restrain the respondent from entering the applicant’s work place or communicating with the complainant.
The court may authorise the issuing of a warrant of arrest of the respondent where it is satisfied that the applicant or child is under imminent danger from the respondent. An interim order shall be served personally upon the respondent and shall provide for a return date upon which he or she may be heard. The court can also issue a tenancy or occupation order.
According to the provisions of the bill, an occupation order shall grant the applicant or child the exclusive right to live in the resident occupied or belonging to the applicant or respondent. A tenancy order shall grant the applicant or child the exclusive or non-exclusive tenancy of the residence with such order as to payment of rental or mortgage as shall be just.
Where a lease agreement to a residence is in the name of the respondent and the applicant, who is not party to the agreement is granted an occupation or tenancy order, the landlord shall not evict the applicant on the basis that the applicant is not party to such lease agreement.
In 2007 the domestic violence act was tabled before the parliament of Botswana by member of the parliament Gladys Kokorwe for the first time the bill presented by private member passed.
The government of Botswana passed the domestic violence act in 2010 in order to protect all people who are in domestic relationship (as defined under the act). The act seeks to provide survivors of domestic violence with protection and empowers courts including customary courts to pass on orders which seek immediate protection.