|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
The Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana (EFB) wishes to express its concern at the relentless campaign by BONELA and other similar organisations whose aim is the legalisation of prostitution and homosexuality in the Republic of Botswana.
The argument of the NGO has been that prostitutes are at a high risk of contracting HIV and developing Aids and that the solution to their marginalisation would be to legalise prostitution so that prostitutes could come out of the shadows and have access to condoms and counselling without fear of victimisation and arrest. The second line of argument that they have advanced is what has been termed the benefit excuse elsewhere. It has been argued that prostitution is beneficial to the prostitute and the society. The prostitute gets paid for selling her body; the society benefits from taxing whatever money she makes and exploiting her sexually. The end result being that both parties win. We believe that such a perception is flawed since in the final analysis everyone loses since the prostitute loses her dignity while the society loses its moral standing.
We wish to urge the government and the general public to reject, disregard and disassociate itself from the arguments of BONELA and other similar organisations because they are misleading since they disregard the belief systems, both cultural and religious, of Batswana. The laws of Botswana should be crafted in such a way that they protect the moral fibre of our society regardless of what is fashionable from elsewhere. If prostitution is made legal, the justice system would essentially condone the peddling of human flesh for profit. Our views on the subject of prostitution and homosexuality are influenced by our position on three issues: First, is our perception of the value and sanctity of the human body. We believe that the human body is intrinsically special and needs to be protected and treated with dignity.
It should not be violated, sold in sex or slavery or lacerated in any way. Prostitution debases the human body and turns it into a mere commodity. Homosexuality, fornication, adultery and incest are therefore inappropriate expressions of our sexuality since they are not just unbiblical but they are also not in consonance with our national culture and traditions. Our nation has done well to keep these legally and customarily unacceptable.
Second, our views are influenced by our understanding of sex. We believe that sex should not be put on sale for those with financial resources. Instead, it should be enjoyed within a loving union of a man and a woman. Third, is our moral reference point. The society needs a moral compass to determine what is wrong or right. Otherwise we will be blown away by any view, opinion, idea and practice that blows our way. Our national anthem captures this moral compass succinctly: "Fatshe leno la rona, ke mpho ya Modimo, ke boswa jwa borraetsho..."
We believe God remains a moral compass for the larger part of the population of Botswana. Therefore, prostitution violates our collective consciousness since our country was founded on conservative Christian ideals. These ideals left a moral imprint on our society from which we must not veer. Prostitution supports and reinforces sex outside marriage which for many years has contributed to social ills such as the collapse of the family, teenage pregnancy, dysfunctional families and weak marriages. The EFB has observed with much concern that many attempts are being made by BONELA to subtly change the moral code of the nation and therefore condemns in the strongest terms the following:
1. The consideration to introduce condoms in our prisons is backdoor condonation of the practice of sodomy practice in our jails. Our nations should creatively explore how to assist those in prison without compromising moral standards. We therefore disagree with the Minister of Health's as well as BONELA's pronouncements for this to be considered and support the nation's Vice President the Honourable Mompati Merafe in stating that this should not be done. We wish him a speedy recovery! It is clear that this proposal to distribute condoms in prisons is an attempt at sneaking homosexuality through the back door.
2. The attempt to make a dividing line between sodomy and homosexuality. Whilst being gay has not been referred to by the penal code, the reference to sodomy in the penal code indicates the intention of the writers of the Constitution of Botswana in illegalising homosexuality. It is therefore to send a wrong and harmful message to suggest that there is nothing wrong with being gay and that the government of Botswana is unable to enforce the law in this regard. As the EFB we believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, and are opposed to same sex unions.
We urge Batswana from all walks of life, Christian and none, to exercise vigilance to ensure that our faiths, cultures and laws are not offended by the proposed changes to the law to satisfy the agendas of organisations that do not have the interest of the nation at heart. There is nothing constructive about putting women and girls for sale and promoting and supporting homosexual acts. We must resist any suggestions that would lead to homosexual marriages in our nation; Actions which would encourage prison homosexual conduct and practices by introducing condoms in our prisons.
Sanity must prevail. God's standards are not relative but absolute. EFB will be monitoring developments on this subject and will do all it can, together with its partners to ensure that the legalisation of homosexuality and prostitution never becomes a reality in our republic. EFB also appeals to all its affiliates and believers to pray for the restoration of the nation's highest ideals so that the country does not degenerate any further into ungodliness.
Pastor Biggie Butale