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Fighting gender-based violence (GBV)

2018-11-21  Staff Report 2

Fighting gender-based violence (GBV)

Reverend Jan A. Scholtz

While in many societies women have achieved a great deal of equality and freedom to define who they are rather than be defined by the expectation of others, endemic patterns of oppression and repression continue to exist even within the same societies. 

Violence against women is still common everywhere. We know, for instance, that a women’s class, social status, level of professional achievement, race, religion or cultural heritage will neither protect her nor make her more vulnerable to experiencing violence within her intimate relationship, or from rape, verbal and psychological harassment - which are also forms of violence that occur in a workplace, home or on the street. 

When jobs are lost, homes are lost, income is lost, healthcare is lost, people experience stress and women in general receive the brunt of the effect of stress. They are hit more often, forced out onto the street more often, and get lost in the system which does not have the capacity to respond to human need in nearly the way it should be responding. We are in such a time in our country and in many countries around the world. 

According to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) report, 28 percent of Namibian women think a man / husband is justified in beating a woman / wife, while 22 percent of men shared a similar view. The report further state that 32 percent of women aged 15-49 years have experienced physical violence in relationships or marriages, or at least once since the age of 15, and that one in three women have reported experiencing sexual or emotional violence from a spouse. 15 percent of women have experience violence and never sought help, whilst six percent of women reported violence during pregnancy.

The latest performance audit report on how the gender ministry is dealing with GBV highlighted the worrying trend of GBV case withdrawals. 

What is to be done?
By all means, we need to support local women shelters and programs to help women who have been raped, abused, or violated in any way. Such services are life-giving and hope-renewing and I celebrate the support many churches and members offer to them. But we also need to go public in a big way to lobby for change of mindset and say no to violence against women. As a nation, we need to come up with specific strategies on how to tackle these evils in our country to ensure the women live in harmony in our society. 

I am delighted that the government is committed to fight GBV and to advocate for a multisectoral coordination of gender equality and women’s empowerment programmes in Namibia. The upcoming high-level dialogue on National gender policy that will take place in Windhoek this month is commendable. 

* Reverend Jan A. Scholtz is a holder of a Diploma in Youth Work and Development from the University of Zambia (UNZA). This is written in his personal capacity.

2018-11-21  Staff Report 2

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