500 rape arrests in nine months

20 November 2019 | Crime

Close to 500 men and youths aged 18 or below were charged with rape in 815 cases reported to the police between January and September this year.

New data released by the police this week show that on average 90 cases of rape were reported every month, leading to the arrest of 452 adult male suspects and 41 teenage boys.

The lowest number of rape cases, 76, was reported in June, and the highest number of cases, 115, in September.

Data for the period January to June 2019 shows that rape was committed against women and girls of all ages. Out of the 516 complainants who reported cases of rape up to June, 240 were 17 or younger, and 276 were adult women.

National statistics for 2017 showed that of the 960 cases of rape reported, 524 involved adult complainants, while 436 reports were made by minors, mostly girls. In 2018, of the 1 121 cases of rape reported to the police, 621 complainants were adults and 500 were minors. Advocates working towards ending gender-based crimes in Namibia have long warned that the reported cases are likely just the tip of the iceberg and that the crime of rape has reached crisis proportions in Namibia.





The police have repeatedly warned that in most cases, the suspects are related to or known to the complainants, often living in the same household.

The police confirmed in October that assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm was the most prevalent crime reported, with rape a close second.



Excuses

Booze, drugs, money, tough childhoods, and customs that cast women into an inferior and weaker role were among the factors blamed by 15 convicted rapists questioned recently on why they had raped.

The case study of offenders at the Windhoek Correctional Facility, conducted by Nangula Kefas, in particular highlighted the attitude of convicted rapists, the underlying issue of patriarchy in Namibia and the perpetrators' refusal to accept blame, Charlemaine Husselmann of Lifeline/Childline said of the study's findings.

“Although the findings highlight the contributing factors, what stands out to me more than anything else is the lack of responsibility by the perpetrators for their actions.”

She said pointing the finger at drugs, alcohol, oppressive traditions and other contributing factors only underscores the “deeper notion of men feeling they would not have committed the act due to these reasons listed.”

Husselmann said the factors blamed by the inmates should be carefully examined instead of being used to justify the act of rape.

She said the study boosts findings that rape is primarily a “weapon used to oppress and control women by inflicting violence on them.”

Records provided by the Namibian Correctional Services (NCS) this month show that close to 14% of the 4 414 men in Namibian prisons are serving time for rape convictions.

Husselmann underlined that rehabilitation programmes should focus on changing mindsets and behaviour, taking full responsibility for actions, and addressing the root causes of rape, instead of only looking at the contributing factors that aggravate existing problems.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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