Namibia experiences high rates of learner pregnancy. According to the Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) between 2015-2017 over 2000 learners dropped out of school because of teen pregnancy. The national health statistics also indicated that, about half the number of girls aged 15-19 are involved in sexual activities, as well as about two-thirds of the boys in that age group; six percent of girls and 12 percent of boys explained they have had sex before age 15 (according to the Ministry of Education, 2010).
It is against this background that the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and Regain Trust held a public dialogue on Learner Pregnancy, under the theme: Is the girl child the only one responsible for teenage pregnancy in Namibia. The aim of the dialogue was to engage with other stakeholders and generate sustainable solutions towards the issue of teenage pregnancy from all levels. The dialogue was attended by key stakeholders namely the Ministry of Gender, Equality and Child Welfare, the Ministry of Education, Namibia Planned Parenthood Association and MenEngage Namibia. The opening remarks and introduction to the dialogue was done by Mr. James Itana who is the Project Manager for Regain Trust. He acknowledged the presence of all the guest speakers and stakeholders including Heiner Naumann (country Representative from Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and Silke Hofs (Project Manager from the EU). Itana stressed the high prevalence rates of Learner pregnancy in Namibia.
Itana Efurther elaborated on the fact that learner pregnancy has devastating consequences on the girl-child, which not only affects their education but it also has implications on their health and socio-economic wellbeing. Julius Nghifikwa, the Deputy Director of HIV and AIDS Management Unit from the Ministry of Education Arts and Culture, emphasised the fact that the role of addressing learner pregnancy is not solely the responsibility of the Ministry of Education but should involve all stakeholders such as parents, Civil Society Organisation, churches and traditional leaders. “We all have a responsibility towards ensuring that we reduce learner pregnancy in the country,” he said. Ngamane Karuaihe-Upi (a Representative from MenEngage Namibia) spoke candidly about the role and responsibility of men in Namibian society. He stressed the importance of promoting gender-equitable norms that enable men to play a much more active role in the upbringing of children.
All stakeholders as the public dialogue identified the current gaps between the learner pregnancy policy and its actual implementation and created a platform for Government, Civil Society Organisation and members of the public to strengthen their commitment towards playing an even greater and active role in Namibia’s efforts to address learner pregnancy.
“Had I not spoken out about being raped I would have never healed from the trauma I experienced.”
– Constance Muparadzi
I am relaxing and sitting on this chair for an hour now. It’s after lunch and I am constantly checking on my watch. As I gauze through the window, I could see the leaves on the trees and how they were almost discoloured by the long harsh, dry weather. Winter is slowly dissipating like a beautiful morning fog. Suddenly the image of Agnes appeared towards the office door. As I lifted my head to stare at her, I could tell she has lost weight. I stood up from my chair and welcomed her inside. Very closely I could see her lively face with all smiles when we greeted each other. I have not seen Agnes for quite some time. Last time I had seen her she was emotionally broken down. She immediately engaged into conversation and made herself comfortable.
I was eager to learn about the new developments. As we started talking, I discovered that a lot of positive changes had taken place in her life. She was fighting inner conflicts after being sexually abused for so many years. “I told myself I will never give up on life. I was repeatedly raped when I was a child, I grew up and became angry at myself. I just withdrew from life. I got to understand that I can overcome this dilemma. I reached at a point where I have decided to let it go,” narrated Agnes. This year Agnes turns 23 and she recalled how her childhood dilemma changed her life. “I was abused by someone very close to me. I was just a child. I had one parent, who struggled to take care of us. The relative took advantage of me and the damage was done. I could not tell anyone that time because I was threatened not to do so, and I was also just ashamed of what happened,” she says.
It took years for Agnes to forgive. “I was afraid how people would react if I tell them about my situation. I kept it as a secret, but it was haunting me. It is important to forgive yourself and those who have hurt you as it allows you to move on with life. After some years I discovered that I am HIV positive. I went through a lot and forgiveness was the first step to my healing,” Agnes said.Agnes recovered from the difficult period after going through counselling sessions. The perpetrator could not live longer to face the justice system. “My uncle passed away before one of my family members could confront him,” recalled Agnes.
Agnes’s family kept it a secret and never reported the matter to the police. “It was a secret and no one from outside was supposed to know it. I had to live with it. The most important therapy you can give yourself is to find meaning in suffering. Learn to look at a situation from different angles and you will realise that a situation brings both positive and negative impact. I am living a healthy life and I am a graduate. I never gave up on my studies. I seek help from people who are non-judgemental. I am indeed thankful for all my struggles because I am who I am today because of them,” said Agnes.
According to the National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS), 32 percent of all women aged 15 - 49 surveyed experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
Between 2013-2015, Namibia experienced over 2000 cases of domestic violence, over 3000 cases of rape and 157 murders (Gender Based Violence Investigation Unit).
Regain Trust empowers survivors of Gender Based Violence through psychological therapy sessions, one on one and group sessions. The intervention process helps and empowers survivors to open up and speak out about their experiences. Awareness campaigns are done through public dialogues, media campaigns and trainings. The organization advocates for a holistic approach to address GBV.
* Regain Trust and (FES) Friedrich Ebert Stiftung with co-funding from the European Union are implementing a project that will contribute towards National efforts to address Gender based Violence and Learner Pregnancy in the Khomas, Erongo and Northern Regions. The project titled “Survivors Speak Up!” seeks to Increase and enhance the delivery of prevention, psychosocial, health, legal and protection services to reduce the prevalence of GBV & LP.
Survivors Speak Up is a project with the overall objective to establish new, multi-faceted approaches to curb Gender-based Violence and Learner Pregnancy through holistic preventative measures and enhanced protection of survivors.
We offer free face to face, group and individual counselling services on gender-based violence and learner pregnancy in the Khomas Region.
Come and talk to one of our dedicated Social Workers from Monday to Thursday 08h00 to 17h00 and Fridays 08h00 to 14h00.
You can call Regain Trust on hotline:Khomas:0817033203, Omusati: 0815584004 & Erongo: 0815584008
New Era Reporter
2018-10-29 09:21:10 6 months ago