By TKay Nthebe
A burning issue in relationships is financial abuse, which negatively impacts households and Lesotho in general. Financial abuse is a form of Gender-based violence (GBV), a pandemic that affects one in three women (33%) in Lesotho (UN Women, 2020). The economic impact of GBV is estimated to reduce household income by LSL 675m annually.
In this article, I talk to Likeleli Mphutlane Monyamane about financial abuse in Lesotho.
TKay: Tell us about yourself.
Likeleli: I consider myself a multipotentialite because I have different outlets to showcase my creativity and passion. On the one hand, I’m a very technical finance professional and a very creative person who loves writing, reading, reviewing books, and teaching on the other hand. I’ve founded several initiatives, including Inspire Innovation Business Consultants, a mentorship program, and Keep Lesotho Clean, an environmental sustainability Non-Profit Organisation.
TKay: What is financial abuse?
Likeleli: GBV has a lot of different forms, such as intimate partner violence, domestic violence, physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse. Financial abuse is a type of abuse where someone with power and authority uses financial resources to exploit or control another person, removing their independence. Both men and women can be victims of financial abuse. However, women experience this type of abuse more than men.
TKay: How can people be financially abused?
Likeleli: An example is where a husband earns more money and uses the money to control when the wife can buy things such as sanitary towels or get her hair done. Another example
is where a woman makes more money, but the husband controls the bank accounts, and everything is in the husband’s name. In some cases, the husband doesn’t use the funds responsibly, and the wife continually takes on more debt. Financial abuse also happens where a partner denies another (wife or husband) the opportunity to develop themselves by going to school, for example, where the goal will be to get a better job. Another example is when a partner takes debt in their partner’s name or changes beneficiaries on insurance policies without their knowledge.
TKay: Can older people be financially abused?
Likeleli: Yes. This is called Elderly Financial Abuse. This happens in cases where someone (family member or banker) who has power or access to the elder’s finances abuses them. An example is where a child withdraws and spends the elder’s pension or family members change beneficiaries on policies or bank staff advise the elderly to invest in unscrupulous investments.
TKay: What is the impact of financial abuse?
Likeleli: The impact is emotional because the victim feels worthless, dependent, and like that they cannot do anything without the help of the person with resources – all dignity and autonomy are removed, where the victim cannot make any decisions. Financial abuse also has an economic impact, requiring help to cover legal, health, and education costs arising from GBV. This puts a burden on the state. GBV issues also lead to reduced household income, which negatively reduces household spending. In addition, companies experience increased absenteeism and lack of productivity at work because of GBV, ultimately affecting the company’s bottom line.
TKay: What can be done to change the narrative?
Likeleli: A multi-sectoral approach, where the government and the private sector collaborate to prevent GBV and assist victims. Some initiatives may include the development of policies, creating helplines for victims, and financial assistance, e.g., grants to support people who have experienced financial abuse pick themselves up. Financial wellness programs are another idea to explore, where people can get help. Employee wellness programs should include GBV and financial abuses as topics.
In closing, people who may realise that they are either perpetrators or victims of financial abuse should seek help to stop the cycle of abuse. It is also essential for families and friends to speak up against abuse and help those in need.