By Lebohang Lenetha
The second destination for the Gender Based Violence (GBV) educational tour paused in Thaba-Tseka, Ha Moqekela last week, attracting the majority of community members who were curious about the lessons.
This is a joined venture by BAM Group of Companies (BGC), Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA), Habitat for Humanity Lesotho, SHE-HIVE and other stakeholder organizations where they seek to raise awareness on GBV in the angle of inheritance in conjunction with cultural norms, types of marriages and steps to follow before engaging in marriage unions.
Among the key topics that attracted the attendants’ attention was an explanation of forced marriages and the challenges that come about in due course. Community members were found agape at the realization that most women and girls have been victims of GBV for years, particularly when it comes to giving them their rights to inheritance.
“Women and girls often find themselves in the midst of fights linking to their rights to inheritance with their families, often after the husband or the father in the family passes on,” said Advocate Mpho Theko from WLSA, stating that lack of knowledge from parents about the type of marriage they get into often leads to them being disinherited.
She added; “Once parents are aware of the type of marriage they are in, they will also know how to divide their properties among themselves and their children equally”.
Meanwhile, BAM Group of Companies Chief Executive Officer (CEO), ‘Mamashiya Ntšepeng Tšita Tikiso stated that these awareness campaigns do not sideline men as they are equal participants in marriages but they are just to educate women and girls, for they are usually the victims of GBV, on how best they can protect themselves and their children from their offenders. “We have seen and heard stories of children being cheated out of their rights to inheritance usually by their step-parents after the death of their biological parents”.
The villagers are advised to consult relevant offices when they wish to get married to get advice on which type of marriage to engage in and why, keep correct and detailed copies of marriage certificates to use as evidence that they are married because some people lose their rights to inheritance after discovering that the letters they have been keeping do not clarify their relationship with the diseased, saying they can always sign a prenuptial agreement and write wills which clearly indicate how each property shall be divided.
For his part, Thaba-Tseka District Administrator (DA) Mapholise Koena added that this campaign will help reduce the cases of brutal killings of women and children reported to her office because this information will help the residents of Ha Moqekela to follow the correct procedure when arranging their marriages, divorcing their spouses, writing wills and reporting any form of abuse they encounter in their respective homes.