Gender-Based Violence (GBV) incidents affect everyone and there is a desperate need to end this social ill in Namibia. This past weekend, women suspects were arrested for being violent towards their partners, highlighting the reality that perpetrators of domestic violence are not always men. However, it is still necessary to acknowledge that in the majority of cases, the victims of domestic violence – or GBV – are women.
GBV is any brutality – physical assault, incest and psychological and emotional harm directed to any human being. This brutality also includes sexual violence such as rape, indecent assault, child sexual abuse and incest, which is prevalent in Namibia.
Gender refers to the socially-constructed characteristics of women and men, including their assigned roles and relationships of and between groups of women and men. It varies from society to society and can be changed.
When talking about GBV, we are guided by Article 10 of the Namibian Constitution, which is the foundation for gender equality in Namibia. The article stipulates that all persons are equal before the law and may not suffer discrimination based on sex, race, colour, ethnicity, religion, creed, or social-economic status. In Namibia, GBV is an issue of national concern and a gross human rights violation.
The incidents of GBV have received more attention in the news lately, with the general public demanding more action against violence perpetrated against women. Such action has triggered the age-old question, the most urgent being, how do we tackle GBV?
Generally, tackling GBV requires the victim to speak out and seek assistance from relevant agencies. Typically, such organisations are involved in protecting human rights and include churches, schools and social workers who assist victims of violence with all the required constitutional procedures of handling violence in Namibia.
As recognised by International Human Rights Law, a state must prevent, investigate, prosecute – and where appropriate, compensate victims of GBV. The Namibian Police Force has a responsibility to ensure incidences of GBV are investigated with due diligence and that the constitutional rights of victims are guaranteed.
It is, however, challenging for the police or state alone to curb GBV. The fight against GBV also rests on individuals and their communities to look out for each other. The police cannot be everywhere, and when a member of a society hears or sees a person or a neighbour engaged in a violent situation, they are encouraged to alert the police immediately.
If and when an individual reveals he or she is a victim of violence, they need to be listened to with empathy and sympathy without judgment and subsequently offered the best possible support.
Principles for victims’ wellbeing in cases of GBV:
Let the victim know he or she is not to blame for the violence.
Tell the victim there is no acceptable justification for violence.
Assure the victim of your support.
Interview the victim in private and request for correct and truthful information.
Maintain and assure the rule of confidentiality, especially in rape cases.
The Namibian Police Force appeals to every Namibian to join hands in the fight against physical violence, rape and other criminal activities.
Compiled by: NamPol Public Relations Division