Protestors Demand Government Action On GBV In Namibia

By Theresia Tjihenuna

MORE than 50 men and women marched from the Katutura Intermediate Hospital to the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court yesterday in solidarity against gender-based violence, and to raise awareness about the scourge.

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The march, under the campaign #TotalShutdownNam, demanded longer custodial sentences for perpetrators of gender-based violence and shorter waiting periods for victims seeking justice.

The movement was led by old and young activists from various non-governmental organisations, with powerful but angry messages bold enough for decision-makers to read.

“I can’t believe we still have to protest for this sh*t,” read one message on a placard. One angry protestor asked why a bullet had to be fired before authorities could act.

Demonstrators, led by social activist Rosa Namises and journalist Alna Dall, also held up boards bearing the names of victims such as Rosalia Shuumbwa, Shapuline Shaduka and Engenesia /Ais.

The crowd assembled at the hospital, where they handed a petition to a representative of the gender equality ministry, calling for safe spaces for women and the investment of more human resources into the understaffed Women and Child Protection Unit.

They then proceeded to the Katutura Police Station to meet Khomas regional commander Silvanus Nghishidimbwa.

The visit to the police station was prompted by a report this week that four alleged rogue officers were among 10 men who were arrested for assaulting their wives and girlfriends over the weekend.

The march was also sparked by the recent death of 28-year-old Alina Kakehongo, who was fatally shot by an ex-boyfriend who was a police officer.

In the petition to the Inspector General of the Namibian Police Sebastian Ndeitunga, the group proposed immediate gender-sensitivity training for police officers, regardless of rank, and the integration of the different concerns and vulnerabilities of women.

They also called for the implementation of the United Nations police gender toolkit and support for female police officers.

Nghishidimbwa, who received the petition on behalf of Ndeitunga, said the police were equally disturbed by their members killing and assaulting those they should be protecting, and vowed to take action.

“I promise that we will study this document [petition], and do something about it,” he said. He, however, said the police cannot do it alone, and praised the group for its boldness.

The group then marched to the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court, where Namises said they wanted speedy delivery of justice for victims, as well as a reduction in the costs and fees for cases involving violence against women.

“Prioritise the establishment of a sexual offenders’ registry for protection services to readily identify repeat offenders, and to warn and protect women and gender non-conforming people who might end up in a potentially dangerous situation with an intimate partner who has already faced charges of GBV,” she stressed.

Among the well-known faces in the crowd was the president of the Namibia Football Players Union, Sylvester ‘Lolo’ Goraseb, who claimed he had joined the march for his granddaughter, who is a victim of GBV.

“I am here today to stand in solidarity with women and little girls like my granddaughter who suffered violence at the hands of men,” he claims.

Goraseb, who shared his story with the assembled crowd, later told The Namibian that he was facing a daily struggle since hearing that his granddaughter was molested by a relative two years ago while in the care of her grandmother.

“She was just one year and nine months when she was molested,” he said. Goraseb said when his daughter found out about the molestation, she informed the child’s grandmother.

“The family did not do anything. Instead, they defended the suspect. The suspect, now 18 years old, was arrested in April this year, but until now, has not appeared in court. Justice is delayed,” he charged.

Goraseb said every time he enquires about the progress of the case, he is informed that the case is with the magistrate.

Although his granddaughter is now four-years-old, he observed that the experience had left her “emotionally damaged”.

“I see it in her face every time. I’m trying to get counselling for her, and hope they can help her,” he said.

Meanwhile, deputy minister of justice Lidwina Shapwa, who received the petition, acknowledged that there is a delay in the number of GBV cases.

“The issue of GBV has seized government since the 1990s,” she said, adding that while the government will work to fight the GBV scourge, it cannot do it alone.

“Civil society needs to tackle this issue. GBV is taking away precious lives, and as government, we will ensure the recommendations given here today are implemented,” she continued.

Other activists and organisations also observed the #TotalShutdown movement in South Africa, Botswana and Lesotho yesterday.

Source: allafrica.com

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