With Human Rights Day and Namibian Women’s Day coming up on the 10th of December, I feel the need to shed some light on the plights Namibian women face in Namibia. Yes, it is a tiring topic, but stopping to talk about it only means more silence being indoctrinated in the next generation.
A Namibian woman cannot take a walk alone at night without having to constantly look over her shoulder in fear of what a man will do to her. Countless times, the average Namibian woman has been subjected to harassment, cat-calling, sexual and emotional or physical abuse. Where then, does the law meet the Namibian women halfway to fully carry out their rights?
This day should be one where women’s voices, which are rarely heard, are recognised. The focus should be placed on the need to protect women, keeping them safe from brutalisation and discrimination. Over the years, women in Namibia have suffered discrimination and exclusion from politics, employment and cultural events. Much of this is due to cultural perceptions of women throughout the country. The creation of Namibian Women’s Day is designed to help women develop a louder voice in their society.
As it stands, we still have men of the law failing to protect the average Namibian woman when she is being abused. Often when a woman reports abuse, she is asked questions that make her look guilty, while she is the victim. The police officers need to be sensitised on how to treat and help abused and/or raped women. Asking what she did to provoke a man who abused her will only help the man gain more power over her, in the stance that he knows the law will always take his side and the woman will be blamed. Conversations in the police station often involve victim-blaming, which in return discourages the victim from going forth to open a case. So, where then is the equal right that a woman is owed by these men of the law? How is asking a victim if she provoked a man or what she was wearing helping her? How does asking a woman why she was walking alone help her, when this is supposed to be a free country? When a man asks questions like that, it clearly indicates that he doesn’t know the dangers a woman goes through, as he is very privileged.
When an 18-year-old decides to seek medical attention in the form of contraceptives, why is she judged and automatically given a pep talk that often screams, ‘you are a whore and you should not start that early with sexual intercourse’. What happened to bodily autonomy and respecting the woman’s right to her body? What happened to supporting and educating the girl child when it comes to taking care of herself? Where is the sexual education, when all young girls are met with is judgement and discrimination for wanting to practice safe sex?
Where are the human rights women should have and practice over their bodies when they are still denied the right to free abortion in Namibia? Where does it leave the right to bodily autonomy when medical practitioners and religious leaders are still deciding for them?
I can only hope the fights we put up will not be in vain.
• 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.