Gender ministry tackles violence, human rights

23 October 2018 | Social Issues

With violence against women and children rampant in Namibia, the gender ministry this week began work to launch two regional gender-based violence and human rights clusters in the north aimed at pushing for better awareness of gender issues and addressing the violence epidemic.

The ministry convened a two-day meeting yesterday with the aim of establishing regional gender-based violence (GBV) and human rights clusters, and to consult on the national women's economic empowerment strategic framework, in the Omusati and Ohangwena regions.

“The overall objective is to establish regional GBV clusters to ensure effective and efficient implementation of gender-mainstreaming programmes, especially in the fight against GBV and the provision of human rights for women and girls and the economic empowerment of women,” the ministry announced.

The objectives of the conference include creating awareness of GBV in Namibia, and its causes.

Moreover, to identify positive cultural practices that could be used in fighting GBV and to share information on national policies and legal frameworks as related to GBV.

The event will also be used to share the national plan of action on GBV 2019 to 2023, and to review existing regional gender permanent taskforce plans while developing new plans aligned to the GBV plan of action.

The platforms will also be used to identify key challenges and opportunities for women's economic empowerment issues in the regions and to address how to better boost economic empowerment. In November last year, Namibian Sun reported on statistics which showed that one third of Namibian rape victims are younger than 18 while more than a third of women aged between 15 and 49 have experienced some form of violence in this country. The ministry of justice further confirmed that at the time, 70% of criminal cases registered at the High Court were related to gender-based violence (GBV).

Also, more than 3 200 domestic violence cases were registered with the Namibian police during the financial year 2015 to 2016. The 2013 Demographic and Health Survey found that 32% of all women aged 15-49 surveyed had experienced physical violence since age 15, and that 14% experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to the survey.

The incidence of violence was highest in Kavango, Omaheke, //Karas and Kunene and lowest in Omusati.

Looking at sexual violence specifically, 7% of women age 15-49 had experienced sexual violence since age 15, and 4% had experienced such violence in the 12 months prior to the survey. Sexual violence was relatively high in //Karas, Otjozondjupa and Khomas, and lower than average in Oshana, Omusati and Ohangwena.

About 6% of the women surveyed reported experiencing physical violence during a pregnancy, and 15% of Namibian women who had experienced violence had never sought help or told anyone about the violence.

Nevertheless, results from the Afrobarometer survey specific to Namibia found that 84% of Namibians believe it is never justified for a man to beat his wife. Most Namibians also believe that the government is waging a robust and effective war against gender-based violence, according to the survey.

“Despite daily reports of gender-based violence in Namibia, 71% of Namibians believe that the government is handling the fight against gender-based violence well,” it was stated at the release of the report.

JANA-MARI SMITH