Gender-Based Violenceand Disability in Namibia

CRISIS … Gender-based violence remains a huge crisis in Namibia. Photo: IOL

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a critical issue in Namibia and people with disabilities face a heightened risk due to the intersection of their gender and disability.

This article explores the specific vulnerabilities of Namibians with disabilities to GBV and the challenges they encounter in seeking help and navigating society.

Women with disabilities are particularly susceptible.

They experience the same forms of violence as women without disabilities, such as physical and sexual assault, but also face additional abuse specific to their disability.

Their dependence on caregivers can leave them open to exploitation and violence within trusted relationships.

Furthermore, communication barriers and a lack of accessible reporting mechanisms can make it difficult for them to report abuse or access support services.

Men with disabilities are not exempt from GBV either. They may be targeted due to their perceived weakness or stereotyped as being less threatening.

Additionally, societal expectations of masculinity can make it difficult for them to report abuse, especially sexual violence.

The challenges faced by people with disabilities in Namibia extend beyond the act of violence itself.

Inaccessible public spaces and transportation can limit their mobility and independence, making them more vulnerable to attack.

Discriminatory attitudes and a lack of awareness about disability can lead to social isolation, further hindering their ability to seek help or escape abusive situations.

Namibia has taken steps to address GBV, but these efforts often overlook the specific needs of people with disabilities.

Law-enforcement officials may lack sensitivity during investigations and support services, such as shelters, may not be physically accessible or have staff members trained to communicate effectively with people with disabilities.

Data collection on GBV rarely includes information on disability, making it difficult to understand the true scope of the problem and develop targeted interventions.

To effectively combat GBV against people with disabilities, a multi-pronged approach is needed. Law-enforcement personnel require training on disability sensitivity and investigating GBV cases involving people with disabilities.

Support services must be made physically accessible and accessible with regards to communication, with staff trained to provide trauma-informed care.

Public awareness campaigns need to address the specific vulnerabilities of people with disabilities to GBV and challenge negative stereotypes.

Furthermore, data collection on GBV should include information on disability to better understand the problem and inform interventions.

Finally, empowering people with disabilities through education, skills training and promoting their social inclusion can help them become more independent and less vulnerable to abuse.

In conclusion, gender-based violence against people with disabilities is a serious and under-addressed issue in Namibia.

By recognising the specific vulnerabilities faced by this population group and implementing targeted interventions, Namibia can create a safer and more inclusive society for all.

Joseph Shipikita

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