By Tsepiso Posholi


-Lerato Caroline Khutlang is a Human Rights Lawyer and a Gender Based Violence Specialist. She has worked for women and Law in Southern Africa Research and Education Trust, as a human rights lawyer. She also worked under the Karabo ea Bophelo project as a Regional Coordinator, her role in the company was to provide legal services to survivors of gender based violence and violence against children.

 Karabo ea Bophelo Project is funded by American Government through USAID and PEPFAR. Khutlang has worked under a couple of other projects like My Sister’s Keeper Movement, the project funded by US embassy Maseru.

She educates us about the types of violence and options available should one require any when dealing with Gender based Violence incidents or require support.

There are four types of gender based violence

  1. Sexual gender based violence (SGBV): Sexual gender based violence can be defined as unlawful sexual acts committed against a person on the basis of their gender. But what are sexual acts?

According to the sexual offenses act of 2003 (Lesotho), sexual acts can either be direct or indirect. They include but are not limited to:

1. Vaginal sex (direct penetration of a penis into a vagina)

  • Oral sex( mouth to genital contact)
  • Anal sex (penis in butt intercourse)
  • Dry humping (indirect contact of genitals)
  • Fingering or hand jobs (hands to genitals contact)
  • Genital rubbing
  • Masturbation ( touching yourself)

A sexual act done without ones consent or permission is unlawful and is commonly referred to as a rape. Similarly sexual acts committed by blood relatives is unlawful. Likewise sexual acts done with people who have mental disability/unfit etc.

Although abortion is restricted in Lesotho and illegal , section 45(2) (c) of the Lesotho penal code act of 2010 permits abortion which seeks to terminate a pregnancy that arose from unlawful sexual acts. (SGBV)

  • Physical gender based violence (PGBV): It is any action that causes physical harm to someone because perpetrated by their gender. Some examples include punching, kicking, burning or cutting. Female genital mutilation is also a type of physical gender based violence. The main aim of the perpetrator is not only to cause physical pain but also to limit the victim’s self- determination.
  • Economical gender based violence (EGBV): Any act or behavior which causes economic harm to an individual. Economic violence can take a form of, for example, property damage, restricting access to financial resources, education or in the labour market, or not complying with economic responsibilities such as alimony, child maintenance and others. The control mechanisms may also include controlling the victim’s access to healthcare services, employment, etc.
  • Emotional/psychological gender based violence (E/PGBV): There is no clear agreement among experts in the field whether there is meaningful difference between emotional and psychological abuse. Some research suggests that there are slight differences between the two. Emotional abuse is believed to be broader and so psychological abuse is often considered to be one aspect of emotional abuse. Also, psychological abuse involves the use of verbal and social tactics to control someone’s way of thinking, such as “gas lighting” which is not necessarily the same as other forms of emotional abuse.

Abuse comes in many different forms. Even when there is no physical violence, abusive language can be very damaging to people. Emotional and psychological abuse mostly includes non-physical behaviors that the abuser uses to control, isolate or frighten the victim. Often the abuser uses it to break down the prey’s self-esteem and self-worth in order to create a psychological dependency on him/her. Unlike physical abuse, there are often no isolated incidents or clear physical evidence to reference.

Emotional and psychological abuse may begin suddenly or it may slowly start to enter into the relationship. Some abusers behave like good partners in the beginning and start the abuse after the relationship is established. When this shift in behavior occurs, it can leave a person feeling shocked, confused and even embarrassed. However, abuse is never a victim’s fault even if the abuser says so or if friends and family members blame them for “allowing” the abuse.

It is often difficult to decide whether or not certain behaviors are emotionally or psychologically abusive, especially if a person grew up witnessing abuse. As with all other types of violence, the behavior is intended to gain and keep power and control over the victim.

Some signs that a partner is being emotionally and psychologically abusive include:

  • Humiliating you in front of others.
  • Calling you insulting names such as stupid, disgusting or worthless.
  • Getting angry in a way that is frightening to you.
  • Threatening to hurt you or the people you care about.
  • The abuser threatening to harm him/herself when they are upset with you.
  • Saying things like, “if I cannot have you then no one can”
  • Deciding things for you that you should decide for yourself like what you wear or eat.
  • Questioning your memory of events or denying that an event happened the way you said it did even when the abuser knows that you are right.
  • Changing the subject whenever you try to start conversations with the abuser and others and questioning your thoughts in a way that makes you feel unworthy.
  • Making your needs or feelings seem unimportant or less important than those of the abuser.

Gender-based violence is a serious human rights violation that has an intense impact on the lives of women and girls and it needs to be addressed. It is a disease that victims need to be protected against!