Community Takes Action On Gender-Based Violence

By Constance Muparadzi and Saskia Breuer

WITH tears rolling down her cheeks, Ouma Bertha bravely shares her story. While taking a breath from her journey by taxi, she sat quietly in the peaceful room for some minutes.

Photo: ukpintrest.com
Photo: ukpintrest.com

With a smile lighting up her face, Ouma Bertha realised she was talking to someone who was paying attention to her story. She apologised for not speaking clearly, and composed herself again.

Ouma Bertha had raised her only grandchild since she was one year old. She was happy because she was nurturing someone special. There was a strong bond between the two of them.

Ouma Bertha explained how her grandchild (nine years old), together with a friend, decided one day to go to a nearby shopping centre to get some sweets, and did not return home. She will never forget the day. She was horrified when she heard that her granddaughter had been abducted by a man.

“When I received the news, my heart became very heavy. I blamed myself for allowing my grandchild to move around alone. I could not imagine how I would live without her. It is very hard to accept what happened to her. She was lured away, and sexually abused by a stranger.”

The girls met the men while buying sweets on a previous occasion. He was in his fifties, and looked very friendly. He gave each of them a dollar, and offered to accompany them on their way home.

On a second occasion, the girls met their new friend again at the shop. He again asked if he could take them home. It was on this second occasion that the stranger lured the girls to a secluded place, and raped her.

“The community reacted when they heard that my grandchild had been seen with a stranger. People started to follow him, but unfortunately the man already had a chance to abuse my granddaughter. When the community members arrived at the scene, they could not believe what they were seeing: a big man trying to harm a small child in public,” narrated Ouma Bertha.

The news of the kidnapping of the girl spread like a veld fire. Everyone was angry, and wanted to pounce on the perpetrator. “I was relieved after the man was apprehended. The whole community worked as a team to keep this man on the scene until the police arrived. The case of my granddaughter became easier after she identified the perpetrator.

Police got enough evidence since people moved fast to apprehend him before he ran away. Even I could sleep well, knowing that the person who harmed my child was now identified, because the police had been called to the scene and the community helped with the arrest of the man. I found it a relief that it did not take a long time to identify the perpetrator,” said Ouma Bertha.

According to a gender-based violence report by UNAIDS in collaboration with Victims 2 Survivors in 2013, one-third of rape survivors in Namibia are under the age of eighteen. Rape was reported as the highest-occurring crime, with 1 075 reported cases from 2009 to 2012. It further shows that women and girls are mostly targeted, with 92% to 94% of all reported cases being female survivors.

Although the community worked swiftly to bring the perpetrator to book, Ouma Bertha did not take what happened to her granddaughter lightly. She approached REGAIN Trust to share her story so that people can be aware of this type of person in their communities. “My granddaughter is a lovely person who used to hug people. Now, she is afraid of everybody. She has become naughty and hyperactive, and forgets things so easily.”

Source: allafrica.com

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