A woman gets murdered and we ask ‘What was she doing out so late?’, ‘Why was she dating that man?’, ‘What did she do or say to him for him to kill her?’
A tweet on the killing said: “Our women are being killed ... Where are we going wrong? Are we not teaching young girls?"
This is where we as Namibians have been going wrong. We proliferate such violent crimes because we continue to make the perpetrator the victim. Instead of asking why the man killed, we ask what the woman did to be killed.
In the same way, instead of teaching our sons not to rape, we teach our daughters to be careful and not to get raped. Instead of placing focus on the actions of the perpetrators, we focus on what the victim in the situation did “wrong”.
To some extent the headlines in our newspapers help perpetuate this school of thought: 'Poly student strangled' instead of 'Man strangles Poly student'.
This creates the mindset that it was the woman’s fault; that the woman did something wrong. The power of subliminal messaging is severely underrated and must be addressed if we want to end the violence.
As Namibians we must take a stand – not only to protect our daughters from rape, murder and abuse, but also to protect our sons by teaching them not only to not harm women, but human beings in general.
This is how the vicious cycle of violence can be broken, and how we can truly live in peace.
– Cindy van Wyk is a Journalism and English major at the University of Namibia in Windhoek.