GBV deaths costing us votes – Sioka

Doreen Sioka

Gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare minister Doreen Sioka says victims who die by gender-based violence (GBV) are lost votes for the government.

She has also motivated her fellow ministers to speak more about the issue.

Sioka, along with president Hage Geingob and his Cabinet, yesterday updated the nation on their service delivery activities during this year.

“Next year, 2024, we are going for [an] election, these people who are dying, that’s our voters, therefore, we are losing votes,” said Sioka.

She encouraged her fellow ministers to consistently mention “even two lines” about the severity of GBV in the country.

“As we are going for Christmas, comrade, the president, I’ll applaud my colleagues that they should also, whenever they’re addressing meetings, address gender, even in two lines,” she said.

Moreover, the minister said orphaned children are a cause of the high poverty because their parents are “eliminated”.

“One of the contributing factors [when] one comes to poverty is also because these people, once the parent is being eliminated on earth, the children will suffer and the government has to cater for those children,” Sioka said.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has said at least 32% of Namibian women have experienced physical violence from an intimate partner at some point in their lives.

The UNFPA noted that Namibia recorded close to 700 rape cases during 2022, with a disproportionate impact on women and girls.


Human rights activists Ndiilo Nthengwe and Linda Baumann have labelled Sioka insensitive.

Nthengwe said the minister’s comments, conflating electoral votes to victims of violence, is “crass and generally unconscionable” in the face of the country’s grim GBV track record.

“Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is one of Namibia’s foremost social pandemics. In her administration as the minister, thousands of youth marching to call for a state of emergency; these are also thousands of voices and voters, tired of her insensitive comments and lack of urgency. This may very well be seen as a political gimmick, even if done unconsciously,” Nthengwe said.

Baumann expressed dismay over Soika’s language and said death needs to be respected.

“It is important to know that death needs to be respected in this country. And as much as we lose our people, we lose greater value of our loved ones, not just to voting but to the significance of what they mean to us in our lives,” she said.

Baumann agreed that a unified message on GBV is needed but said she loathed Sioka’s way of doing this.

“So, I believe that the collective voice that she’s referring to is crucial, but I also think that she needs to be able to be sensitive over the people that are participating in voting, but also the people that we are losing towards whatever form of death it is,” she said.

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