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TOP DOGS - S/PHIKWE RATES STILL PUZZLES

My days are consumed like smoke, and my bones burn. My heart is smitten and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread I watch as a sparrow alone upon the housetop, as the future of our sisters and daughters is captured.

Justice must be served for the men in our community who day after day char the future of our young women—“top dogs” they laughingly call themselves. Further, we must protect and empower our sisters and daughters to save them from becoming a statistic, fallen into the cruel blackness of HIV/AIDS affliction.

As I raise my concerns, a man I encounter jokes that since 2006 women have dominated this mining town, though nothing could be further from the truth. At that time, the area blossomed with new job opportunities, thanks to the boom of the fabric industry, so many young and middle-aged women (about 10,000!) flocked to this town in search of greener pastures. He explains that the ratio of women to men rose to four to one, allowing the men to gain the habit of taking multiple partners into their beds. As a result, HIV/AIDS infection spread like wildfire, and even as the fabric industry collapsed and women returned to their villages, the top dogs were still hungry.

Top dogs are the most highly paid men from the mine. They buy very luxurious cars. They call themselves top dogs because of their salaries that beat all the others. Yet what they refuse to admit and what our community refuses to confront is that they are the force behind the desolation in Selibe-Phikwe caused by the monster HIV/AIDS. Today, they have put the Selibe-Phikwe senior secondary school girls under virtual siege.

Believing they are entitled by their riches and status, top dogs are in the practice of having many women. Through this behavior, they have perpetuated the disease, often becoming infected themselves and their blood is crying with revenge. Many women have also become infected and in a town where the incidences of HIV/AIDS is the highest in all of Botswana, the few who are left untouched are all too often the children. As innocent as they are, as young as they are, as healthy as they are, and as beautiful as they are, girls as young as 14 have become the desire of the perpetrators beds. The top dogs believe them to be fresh; they even believe that they can wash their own blood of infection by sleeping with them, driving them to seek them out with even more passion.

All the while, poverty deprives so many women in Selibe Phikwe that they may be forced to engage in the secretive trade of their bodies among men. What is worse, single infected mothers may be driven to desperation by such unfathomable hunger that they send their daughters into the dangerous jaws of the top dogs. Having been “bought,” a girl must abide by his rules and oblige his wishes for unprotected sex.This town needs more attention, I in particular cannot blame the people. I blame the systems in Selibe-Phikwe. There is not enough awareness and the pride of men is robbing our nation of its future. The confrontation is general and if things were specified hopefully the disease would be combated.

"What is wrong with Selebi-Phikwe?" asks the Selebi-Phikwe District AIDS Coordinator, Lamech Myengwa. I believe that females are infected at such a high rate in Selibe-Phikwe because they are unemployed, living in poverty, and hunger .They are forced to sleep with men without condoms without knowing the status of those men. Newspapers, billboards, and television advertisements try to encourage behavior change, but how can this help? For years these efforts have failed to be sufficient..

As a woman who has seen the torture of other women I believe I can be the source of their empowerment. Today, I proclaim that there is a need to motivate and empower Selibe-Phikwe, and, in particular, its mothers and its youth. Let us support them in a way that enables them to stay away from activities that make them vulnerable; let us demand justice be served to those top dogs who continue to devastate our community. My only wish and proposal is for the government to engage NGO’s and churches, to be mandated to empower girl child.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 30 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

Comments

Kristin Miller's picture

BEAUTIFUL!

Very well done, Warona! This looks really good and you have written about something that is extremely important for people all over the world to understand. Thank you for sharing so beautifully!

Kristin

warona's picture

Greateful to you!!!!!!!!!!

Dear Kristin,

Thank you so much for your glorious comment, it has been a wonderful time.Am so thankful to your awesome help.Behind all this inspiration is you and mum.You have been so good to me.Am actually thankfull to God who has alowed us to meet in this manner. I had an awesome encounter with wonderful ,great people.

May God keep us together forever.Thank you,thank you three much.

All the best to us all.

Regards

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

Ruun Abdi's picture

Congratulations my dear for a

Congratulations my dear for a beautifully written work.

Love,
RA

warona's picture

Ooohh! my friend!

Dearest Ruun,

Its good to hear from you dear. Thank you once more for your support.And for taking your most precious time to read this piece, its so awesome dear.

Thank you so much my love

All the best to you.

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

Ruun Abdi's picture

Did you get my message?

Did you get my message? Please check your worldpulse inbox.

warona's picture

Oh yes i did

My love,

Yes i did,but i wanted to respond, only time, i was held up with so many things yesterday dear.I will definately check that.Thank you so much for your keeness and thank you for arleting me,hey my dear am are so held up here.

Thank you so much for you, may be three much!

Grateful

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

lydia's picture

Leader with Heart

This is a very persuasive op-ed! Your passion for helping the women in your community is clear. There is a real need for female leaders and I am so impressed to see you stand up with such heart for your countrywomen. Using the label "top dogs" throughout is a wonderful way to create a vivid image in the reader's mind that will stay for a long time. It would be interesting to hear stories from these women themselves--the power of journalism is that we can help these women be heard. Sometimes, when someone feels they have truly been heard they are able to stand up and enact change. Hopefully, with your help, the women in Selibe-Phikwe will find their voices and shout for change. Wonderful writing and I wish you all the best in your endeavors to topple the pile of "top dogs."
-Lydia

warona's picture

My dear Lydia, Indeed am

My dear Lydia,

Indeed am troubled.Mothers, sisters, girl child, all of them are my pain. I wish you could come here and have some time with these people, you will bear testimony to the whole world. I actually want someone out there to understand our fate.Its a terrible encounter.

As long as i wouldnt love my daughter to get into these so called top dogs, as well i wouldnt love anyone to indulge with these innocent girl.They are the future of this nation, the pride of this nation, they are this country 's wealth. So now if things gets out of shape how do we predict our future. Its all vanity.We cant afford this siege anymore.We need to change dear. I also hate to see hunger, the very same thing that tricks women here into giving up to these men.I hate hunger with a deeper hate. No, atleast there should be something for people to eat,not to be robbed their dignity because of hunger.

Anyway thank you so much Lydia for uplifting my voice, so very grateful dear!

Regards

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

lydia's picture

Keep your voice loud!

Dear Warona,
It is wonderful that you are in the Voices of Our Future program--you truly have something to say, a heart full of sorrow for your sisters. My prayers are with you and the women of your community. Through World Pulse I hope you will be able to find and enact solutions that will help your community and change the fate of these girls. Keep your head up and know that all the Voices of Our Future midwives and mentors are rooting for you!
Best,
Lydia

warona's picture

Yes my dear Lydia!

Hello once more!

Thank you,thank you so much, am inspired, so uplifted.Yes this World Pulse God given opportunity, its equipping me , am so aroused and i dont think i will ever keep quit .The journey has started. Thank you so much for your prayers. Prayer is all that we need, we cant do without prayers, because God is so awesome. And i thank God for World Pulse, this platform is changing champions.

Thanks Lydia for your support, this is great!

Grateful

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

Sarvina's picture

It is such a powerful oped

It is such a powerful oped piece sister. Top dogs, sometime almost the same meaning in my country and many developing countries might meet all these kind of top dogs I think. They who bring HIV/AIDS to the young girls as they force them to sleep without condom. It is really bad for people using money and power to cover other poor people. Wonderful and inspiring writing!

Love,

Sarvina

Regards,

Sarvina from Cambodia
VOF 2011 Correspondent

warona's picture

Sarvina !

My love,

Sarvina!

Its good to hear from you over there gal, hope you are fine.Well the secretive ongoing trade among men and women cannot heal our country.The only thing that makes them happy today it seems, when they take drugs.Who then can say Botswana people are healthy when they all take drugs for HIV/AIDS. Botswana runs with its vision, therefore anyone who will say to himself that he is invisioned he will definately seek to change a lot of things for better. Or else it will be vanity of vanities.We need change here.

Yes Sarvina powerful people like men usually subdue women for no apparent reason. Some they do these things for fun, some to gratify their filthy desires.Can you imagine!

Thanks Sarvina

Regards

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

Usha RS's picture

Shining a light

Dear Warona,
Thank you for shining a light on this desperate situation. I agree with you that it is necessary to empower women and girls to make positive choices for their lives. It is also important to educate the men to change their ways and live more honorably, with humanity, rather than like dogs. My prayer is for the suffering in your part of the world to be eased that all may find their fullest flourishing.

Let your light shine!

Dear usha

So very greateful, thank you so much fot this comment.Indeed knowledge is power. In my quest for social change, i beleieve, Batswana are listening, its a heartining situation.Thank you so much for extending your prayers.We really must change.I hope the impact will do great wonders in this community.

Thankfull

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Painting a picture

Dear Warona,

Your Op-Ed paints a very visual picture in my mind of your town. It is extremely well written and covers a multitude of important topics in a very short time. Great flow to the piece! I would love to know what specifically you would do to empower the women and youth in your community--always good to have specifics.

Great job and keep up the good work!

Rachael

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

warona's picture

My acknowledgements.....

Dear Rachel,

This is an overwhelming situation, if at all we want to live at least decent lives we cannot afford to be mistreated by men, taking an advantage of us. I mean we ought to have heart for other people. Just imagine next to my house yesterday, my daughter as young as she is (7) she told me mummy,those girls mother has been cut by an axe on the head, i said what? and i knew it was serious since she cautioned me. These are the common passion killings among our women in this location.But if you look at the real source of this passion killling, the man was drug influenced. I mean who on earth will kill his loved one with an axe, a gruesome death, a shameful death, after approving himself a lover and friend to such. I was told the woman was asleep during the day, just relaxing, after actually serving the husband with the food.

Well i hope God is the overseer, he is watching over his people.As we continue to shout our voices out this world will never the same.Our sisters will be safe in a secure world.Well i just wanted to share with you this throbbing pain.

To answer you dear, my intention, as you know that when i first started with world pulse, i was still seeking answers and ideas of what is to be done to my community. Because people here are just innocent.They are just free and good people who deserves such a care. I would want to start with empowering girl child. Because Rachel when i look at the happenings around here its like they are the main target. Just imagine after you have planted the seedlings, they emerge then the enemy uproots them, how then are we going to achieve our goals. I was looking at what Great Foundation is doing in Zambia, out sourcing that information to me has helped me to get focus. The only thing i would love to do is farming to combat poverty as well see ways to combat HIV/AIDS.I want to have my organisation in which women in Botswana can embark on. Within this organisation we will come up with ideas to empower women.A lot will be done in this org.We will empower. workshops, outreaches to the unreached, we will also bring technology to people. Just pressing on the key board can be so scary as it was with me, as well the use of mobile phone, some people they dont know its impotance, just answering, not even texting. So many people needs to be bold and confident about life.I believe saying out things can always help.If we keep quite how then can one know the truth, unless it be told, thats how we will empower each other. Also Botswana has talent, they are women in the rural areas who are talented art.There are weavers, artists, capentors, potters and designers, including the singers.All these talents are to be realised and cultivated for the betterment of our societies.

I hope this gives a few about my desire for youth and women in my community.At the asounding of our voices every woman will realise her potential.Thats what i believe, and i strongly believe my voice is irresistable. As long as the right message is conveyed at the right place at the right time, we will never go wrong.We will capture the hearts of many women under torture and subjection.

Thank you so much Rachel for your support.

Regards

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

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