I know many think we have exhausted the conversations around gender-based violence, yet, nothing seems to be solving the issue at hand, especially in Namibia, and mostly, the northern regions of the country. For those who do not know, every year, from the 25th of November until the 10th of December, we celebrate 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. This year is nothing different, except for the theme #EndingFemicide.
If you have been seeing it on your social media and were wondering what exactly it is, please let me give you more enlightenment. 25 November each year marks the start of the 16 Days of Activism campaign. The campaign is a key period for many feminists and women’s rights activists, who work to prevent and end men’s violence against all women and girls, and to dismantle the patriarchal norms, behaviours and systems that sustain it. This campaign was also started so that it is interlinked with Human Rights Day and Namibian Women’s Day on 10 December. This was done with the aim of highlighting that gender-based violence against women is a violation of human rights.
In Namibia, we have seen the high number of femicide cases rise every day. We have seen protests from the #ShutItAllDown movements, as well as many protests online from activists. Femicide is the killing of women and girls because of their gender. It includes when women and girls are killed by their intimate partners or ex-partners, or by a family member. According to the UN, 45 000 women were victims of femicide at the hands of a husband, partner or another family member in 2021. This figure is the reason why the 16 Days’ campaign continues to raise femicide as its theme for the second year in a row.
As such, for the 16 days of activism, we urge everyone to spread awareness of the high statistics of femicide in Namibia and around the world. With this campaign, the biggest aim is to engage men and boys to end male violence against women, girls and people of diverse sexual and gender identities. We do recognise that there are also a number of men who have suffered at the hands of females, and as such, they are also included in the campaign.
The reason for Namibia’s inordinately high levels of GBV is complex to understand and challenging to tackle, as they are based on a traumatic past, the conflict between tradition and modernity, and entrenched social and gender norms, often exacerbated by poverty-related stress, family unit breakdowns, and, in most cases, high alcohol consumption. Finding ways in combating GBV cases in Namibia is of paramount importance, and finding ways in which to reach men and have conversations centred around the ‘causes’ of them perpetrating these acts is the first step. It is, thus, an opportunity to bring men and boys into the movement as active and accountable allies against violence and oppression, and to embrace and promote the equitable gender norms needed to end gender-based violence at all levels of society.
* Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section concentrates on women-related issues and parenting every Friday in the New Era newspaper. She also specialises in editing research proposals, proofreading as well as content creation.