President Hage Geingob has urged men to be at the forefront in the fight against violence against women.
“Let us all strive to create a society where every woman and girl can live in dignity, equality, and security,” said Geingob in a media statement yesterday, in observance of International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women.
“As a nation, we must strive to create an environment where survivors feel safe to come forward, where perpetrators are held accountable for their actions and where support services are readily available,” Geingob said.
Laws such as the Combating of Domestic Violence Act and Affirmative Action are some of the means through which we have made significant progress in addressing violence against women and girls, he said.
“These laws are aimed at protecting victims, promoting gender equality, ensuring women’s representation in decision making,” Geingob added.
He commended the efforts of the government in raising awareness about gender-based violence (GBV), such as workshops and educational programmes.
He also highlighted the establishment of specialised units within the Namibian Police to deal with GBV.
Furthermore, Geingob urged Namibians to build a nation where violence is not just condemned but prevented.
The day is observed annually on 25 November, and this year it is held under the theme, ‘Invest to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls’.
Speaking at a different occasion, One Economy Foundation gender and child protection specialist Veronica Theron said GBV is not only a women’s issue anymore and the country currently has a conviction rate of 16%.
Theron was speaking at the third volume of the #BreakFree art show in Windhoek over the weekend which brought together 20 participants who showcased their talents at the National Theatre of Namibia (NTN) to raise awareness of GBV.
The #BreakFree movement, which is the anti violence leg of the Office of the First Lady, joined the world in observing International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which also marked the first day of 16 Days of Activism, ending on 10 December on Human Rights Day.
“Sixteen days are commemorated yearly with the aim of ending GBV against women and girls. However, in Namibia we do not only focus on violence against women and children because they are not the only sufferers, men too suffer from it,” Theron said.
She said the foundation speaks to GBV as a whole, due to Namibia’s gender neutral laws.
“For the last nine years, every day (365 days) has been a day of activism and we are not seeing a remarkable difference. Namibia has high rates of violence and the victims and offenders continue to get younger and younger,” she said.
The NTN featured various performances which revealed their creative sides and shared stories of GBV.
One of the participants of the competition from the fashion design category pledged not to pass chains of violence down to the next generation.
“As a mother of a young boy, I am responsible for your daughter’s future. Your daughters should not come stand here and speak of the same story that I went through in my first six months of pregnancy at the hands of my partner,” she said.
She said she uses fashion design as a way of breaking the chains society had placed on her. Among them is alcohol and drug abuse, victim blaming and a lack of foundational education about GBV and culture.
“I was blamed for the pain I was going through. When I informed my family about the violence I was going through they asked me what I did to make my partner hit me. They also blamed it all on my hormones and never made time to believe me.”
Another participant of the art show highlighted the role and importance of trust.
“Darkness can be brought to light with trust, the trust in family, friends, loved ones and trust between a grandmother and grandchild. Trust is the first step to change, asking for help and breaking free,” she said.
Another participant created a short film reflecting that GBV is not a typical issue in the daily life of a man.
Each of the four categories of the show – performing arts, visual arts, fashion design and multimedia were awarded prizes, as well as the overall winner.
The winners were UCDC Dance Group under performing arts and overall prize winner, Lynette Musukubili as the visual arts winner, Ngaa Gowera for fashion design and Ben Valombola and Charles Zambwe under multimedia.
Each category winner received N$10 000, while the overall winner received an additional N$20 000.
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