WALVIS BAY – Women, men and children at the west coast have in unison expressed concern about the increasing incidences of gender-based violence in the court by hosting a candlelight vigil in memory of those that were raped and murdered in the country.
Condemning gender-based violence that have cost the innocent lives of women and children as well dismantled several homes, those in attendance said that it was high time that communities took a stronger stand against such atrocities to protect women and children.
Organiser of the event Luzelle Yon Lestrade explained that it is high time that communities recognise the value of women and children, teach young boys to be protectors and not only strong characters who do not value women.
“We are at a stage where women do not feel safe in their own homes, let alone in the streets. They have to be constantly on alert, as they don’t know what is going to happen next or whether they are going to be the next victim. That is not how we have lived,” she explained.
Trudi Brandt who recently divorced her husband after an abusive marriage also explained that it is sometimes hard for women to escape gender based violence.
“Some women end up staying in an abusive marriage or relationships because of shame or being financially dependent on their spouse. Others again stay for the sake of their children. However, I am sure our children would rather want to see us happy, than being bruised and fearful in our marriage, hence I could escape an abusive marriage, others were not so lucky,” she said.
Also speaking at the event, deputy mayor of Walvis Bay Penelope Martin-Louw said that no one deserves to have their lives cut short by someone who has no regard for the rights of others.
“Although domestic violence has been condemned by our leaders on numerous occasions, it all seems to have fallen on deaf ears. We have asked for tougher sentences, and granted, our courts seem to have adopted a harsher approach towards the perpetrators of violence. Even so, the statistics on crime will probably show that the degree of cruelty towards our women and children is showing an upward curve,” she said.
Martin-Louw is also of the opinion that various experts need to conduct an in-depth study to investigate the root cause of these senseless acts, as this might be useful in finally bringing gender based violence to an end.
“We know what some of the reasons are, namely poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, and so on. However, it is even more disturbing that violence against women is witnessed by their own children. These acts can have lasting psychological damage on our future generation. This creates an on-going cycle of violence due to harboured anger and resentment and is unacceptable by all means,” she said.
She then explained that there is a stigma attached to some African cultures that deter men to speak about their problems.
“Let’s please move away from the age old notion and start adopting methods that can help us become better individuals, such as counselling. Let us encourage our men to seek help if they experience behaviours or thoughts that are destructive. It can be useful to speak to a trusted friend or family member, your pastor or perhaps seeking the help of a professional psychologist or social worker. This may help you from doing something you might regret later,” she said.