Leribe district has become a hotspot for sexual assault cases in Lesotho, with 51 incidents reported by the police from January to April this year, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
In response to this alarming trend, Lesotho, with support from the UNFPA, will observe World Population Day on July 20 in TÅ¡ehlanyane, Leribe.
According to a press statement issued by the UNFPA, Leribe was chosen as the host district for the commemoration due to its high prevalence of sexual assault cases.
The event, according to the statement, aims to raise awareness among the local communities about the detrimental impact of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and advocate for its eradication.
Lesotho is reported to be ranking third in the world with the highest rape instances per capita and sixth highest murder rates ahead of countries at war.
According to a Gender-Based Violence Study by Gender Links in 2015, 86 percent of Basotho women have experienced GBV in their lifetimes.
UNFPA disclosed that the commemoration at TÅ¡ehlanyane will feature speeches, songs, and drama as well as community dialogue, tailored around the messaging of this yearâ€™s theme.
â€œThe Launch of UNFPAâ€™s annual flagship report -the State of the World Population Report will also be part of the commemoration,â€ the statement read.
It also mentioned that this yearâ€™s report titled; 8 Billion Lives, Infinite Possibilities: The Case for Rights and Choices, asserted that when women and girls were empowered by societies to exert autonomy over their lives and bodies, they and their families thrive.
â€œThe knock-on effect is a better, more inclusive world, well-equipped to deal with whatever demographic changes and challenges the future holds,â€ the statement read.
World Population Day was first observed in 1989. The Day was inspired by the public interest when the worldâ€™s population reached Five Billion on the day July 11, 1987.
The day aims to raise awareness among the public of various population issues such as the importance of family planning, gender equality, poverty, maternal health, and human rights.
Under the theme â€˜Unleashing the power of gender equality: Uplifting the voices of women and girls to unlock our world’s infinite possibilitiesâ€™, this yearâ€™s World Population Day was observed globally on July 11.
The commemoration highlights the urgent need to advance gender equality to fulfill the aspirations of the worldâ€™s eight billion population.
Key messages include the importance of gender equality for a more just, resilient, and sustainable world, the recognition that gender inequality harms women’s and girls’ rights and choices, and the understanding that investing in gender equality today is an investment in our shared future.