Each day, the press is awash with hair-raising gender-based violence cases. It’s always the kind of stories that stop one’s heart in its tracks. The question is: what causes this nauseating and inhuman behaviour from sections of our society.
Recently, police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga came out guns blazing and charging that “Men are embarrassing us”. This atrocious behaviour is more than embarrassing; it is corroding the very fibre of our society. Extermination of this evil from our society requires a complete exhumation of its roots and burning the trunk beyond recognition.
As a nation, we must take note that in 2015 the gender gap index ranked Namibia number 16 out of 145 countries globally. Gender-based violence, as we all know, has continued unabated – and it does not require a genius to estimate where our nation could be currently ranked.
There is an urgent need, therefore, to put our heads together and defeat this social ill once and for all.
Understanding the root causes of gender-based violence requires an examination of our society and how we raise our children.
It is important that our children are raised in an environment full of love and care. Unfortunately, our children do not see love being displayed at home – neither are they shown any love.
Children need hugs; they need to be told ‘I love you’. A child raised without affection will find it difficult to respect and love others hence the cycle of violence in our society.
Our society and culture have labelled publicly showing love between couples a taboo.
Our children, thus, never see their parents openly showing love to one another. Parents never cuddle or show affection to each other in front of their children. Imagine the lasting effect such sentimental actions would have on our young boys.
They will certainly grow up valuing and respecting women. They could know that a woman is there to be loved, cared for and not to be abused. Instead, what boys and young men often experience is neglect and abuse. This is what they also translate to others, and the cycle of violence continues.
It is also important to note that gender-based violence is not only perpetrated against young girls and women, but young boys are also victims of such violence. Our young boys are also equally abused and neglected in our society.
Both boys and girls go through puberty, and their bodies equally change. When girls are being educated about menstruation and sanitary pads, our boys also need to be educated about changes taking place in their bodies and how to cope with all these changes.
There is so much emphasis by
the government and other organisations on how to keep the girl child in school; yet, there are also numerous boys who also drop out of school and end up in the street.
A closer look into our streets will reveal that the majority of street kids are boys, who tend to be violent, especially against women. This perpetuates the cycle of violence against women. As a society, we should equally support our boys in their journey to manhood.
There is a need to give sex education at an early age, beginning from home and in our schools. Our children need to be taught about the types and cycles of abuse. These include physical, sexual, verbal, isolation, and emotional and psychological abuse.
Such education is vital in making our boys and girls appreciate the effects of abuse in our society. Educating our children in their formative years has the potential to neap gender-based violence in the bud. Children need to be educated about their rights and self-respect. Such an education will help our children know their values and self-worth.
As a nation, we have not done enough to raise our children in a way that will make them shun gender-based violence.
We have heard loud calls of harsher sentences, and more recently by the chief of police himself, but the question is: will such sentences end gender-based violence.
One may even argue that sentences are harsher than before; yet, gender-based violence continues unabated.
Almost every day, we read of an appalling case somewhere in our nation. As a nation, let us re-look at how we are raising our children.