Social activist Josy Nghipandua said zero tolerance against gender-based violence needs to trend, so that whoever goes against the grain is discouraged to behave in a manner that harms the next person.
She said this at a discussion titled ‘Gender-based violence: Shaping youth foresight from awareness to accountability’ hosted by Masters of Journalism students from the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST).
“As a woman, you get psychologically manipulated and is in denial regarding the person’s wrongdoing that you would rather take and accept the blame of why the abuse exists in the first place on yourself to exonerate this person, because they made you believe one way or the other that the reason the abuse is being inflicted on you is that you made them do it,” said Nghipandua.
She said most times, the concentration is on how the abuse has ended instead of how it started, which she attributed to fragile masculinity, leading a man to exert their superiority on a woman in a violent manner, and this differs from person to person.
“You cannot tailor-make the abuse experience to fit the average person, because you deal with different types of abusers who inflict different kinds of abuse on different kinds of people,” she extended.
She said to address the matter, it is important to include all parties, as there are boys who are molested by family members all the time, but families refuse to talk about it.
Nghipandua expressed that abuse is abuse and it should be seen as that no matter who the perpetrators are, and the focus should be on finding out why people resort to that, and find ways of rehabilitating them.
Lifeline Childline Namibia’s gender programme manager, Elize Prins, said GBV is complex with different layers and contributing factors accompanied by different perceptions and understanding, highlighting gender norms in society that perpetuate violence.
“We raise our boys to be in control or accept to be in control all the time, to not show feelings, to solve problems with violence and aggression. At the same time, we are raising our girls to be submissive and to accept and expect that if a boyfriend loves them, he should show a kind of violence,” she explained.
Prins further said harmful gender norms are seen as traditional to an extent or culture but one can’t ignore the harmful effect, especially referencing the violence perpetrated towards women and children.
A survivor of GBV, Prins cautioned those going through the same to have faith in themselves and do the right thing, and report the abuses. She, in the same vein, urged women who financially depend on men, to work on themselves. A ray of light that partially saved her was that she was financially independent, and made it easy for her to walk out of her abusive relationship.
“Young people must take ownership and dare themselves to be strong and brave enough when incidents of GBV are detected, to intervene and try to stop it or inform the law enforcement.”
Andrew Niikondo, NUST vice rector for academics, said given the complexity of cultures and their negative impact on women’s lives, cultures of all societies reflect male dominance or patriarchy, and male supremacy developed the whole problem of patriarchy throughout the ages.