• March 24th, 2019
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Where is the church in all this?

WINDHOEK – Faith-based communities can have meaningful and impactful roles in the lives of individuals and society at large if they join hands to address societal ills such as gender-based violence, the Director of the Windhoek Islamic Centre, Dr Armas Abdul Malik Shikongo says.  

“However, at the moment there seems to be very little inter-faith cooperation amongst the various faiths represented in Namibia,” said Shikongo. 

He said faith-based communities have ‘powerful platforms’ which, when used well, could complement what government and other organisations are already doing to address the problem.   

“I would propose that the various religious leaders and morally concerned individuals need to step up and do more in this area by, for example, launch a ‘Love and Mercy Action Group Against Social Violence’ that would include GBV and violence against children in particular,” Shikongo suggested. 

Shikongo said there are enough moral teachings and socially relevant scriptures that can be used to support such a moral initiative from various faith traditions. 

Asked on why he thinks violence against women and children is persistent, Shikongo, who is a psychology lecturer at the University of Namibia, said: “This is a complex question, since part of the answer is based on the nature of humans. Human beings have a tendency to become violent and emotionally aggressive regardless of racial, religious, biological, social, economic or educational background. This is simply human nature problem.” 

However, there are factors that contribute to GBV and violence against children such as substance abuse, adverse economic situations, negative cultural influences, poor morals, stress, burnout and low emotional intelligence.
Shikongo said there are policies and laws that have been put in place by government to address these issues; however the main challenge is the internal or psychological component. 

“Many people do not know how to peacefully solve complex interpersonal problems with a high level of emotional intelligence and thus unable to solve interpersonal issues using peaceful ways,” said Shikongo. 

That means a holistic and ecological perspective is required to address these complex human issues, he added.  
Thus, there is a need for a multi-sectoral and inter-sectoral approach to address such psychosocial problems. 

“Everyone in society needs to do their part to effectively tackle the problems, and I must commend the media for always making sure that these morally troublesome issues are brought to the fore so that society can be legally, morally and ethically mobilised to take appropriate measures,” said Shikongo.  

He added that moral and ethical education is one of the most effective tools to complement the legal strategy. “Hence the need for faith-based communities to become proactively and consistently involved together with government and other stakeholders, such as the international community.” 

Asked on the programmes in place by the Muslim community to address gender-based violence, Shikongo said there are no formal activities. 

“The main reason why the local Muslim community is not yet formally and consistently involved in many social issues is that the community does not have the necessary resources, both human and infrastructural to address such issues,” said Shikongo. 

The minimal activities in these areas are occasional religious sermons that the Imaams (Islamic leaders) at various mosques give to contextually address these issues from the pulpit, he added.

“This, especially when addressing contextual issues when they get reported in the media, after incidents of gender-based violence or domestic violence in general,” added Shikongo. 

The Muslim community in Namibia is very small, with less than 0.5 percent out of the total population of about 2.5 million people, said Shikongo. 

Alvine Kapitako
2018-09-07 09:09:09 6 months ago

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