Emotional intelligence in combating GBV
Emotional intelligence in combating GBV

Emotional intelligence in combating GBV

Yanna Smith
By: Patience Masua

An often neglected issue when addressing gender-based violence (GBV), especially within the Namibian context, is emotional intelligence. It is important to understand the vital role that it plays in victims reporting cases and sometimes withdrawing cases but more importantly, the prevention of them falling into the same vicious trap of either returning to those abusive relationships or entering yet another such abusive relationship fails.

I will be addressing two major drawbacks which significantly hinder the progressiveness of movements aiming at curbing gender-based violence namely, patriarchy and dependency as a result of social structures. It is nothing new that in our beloved motherland, men have predominantly been superior to their female counterparts. In as much as there has been progress and empowerment for women politically and economically, much less has been achieved domestically. This is of particular concern as this directly links to the abovementioned issues when it comes to combating GBV. Many women, particularly in less developed areas, but also even in the most advanced areas of our country, still implicitly subvert to the authority of their male counterparts, as a result of social or traditional structures which have been in place for as long as we can remember. The problem with this is that in many instances it is used to condone GBV.

The superiority is not the primary concern, but it becomes problematic when women are abused both physically and emotionally. Moreover, because this has been instilled in our women for so long, they buy into this idea, merely because they feel like that is the way it is supposed to be (they know no other way, they have been raised this way with their mothers or other female role models telling them it is in order), or because they are being made feel that they deserve such treatment, on the basis that they did something wrong. Furthermore, a great deal of emotional blackmail is often attached to abusive relationships and the acceptance women want from their partners prevent them from reporting abuse. This has led to many gender-based violence cases going unreported and women suffering in silence. The flaw in our legal system is that it does not cater for third parties reporting this type of violence and related cases as the victims “want” to stay in these abusive relationships and simply end up withdrawing these matters. Secondly, the idea of dependency as result of social structures persists. Many women, as a result of patriarchy, still find themselves in marriages or relationships where their abusers are the breadwinners and provide for them (and) their children. And sadly, many children find themselves in families (because of the birth lottery system) where their abusers are their fathers or stepfathers, who financially provide for the family. It is unfortunate that in these cases, especially, many women and children live lavish or even simply standard lives and are forced to do so at the expense of their dignity. Yet still, as a Namibian society we are still quick to blame women for the withdrawal of cases or them returning to the very abusive relationship they wanted to escape from in the first place.

It is more likely for an uneducated Namibian woman to suffer in silence knowing that her children will be cared for, than to have her dignity and not have food to feed her children. It is also more likely for a child to stay silent, out of respect for their fathers or merely because he/she definitely will not have a home after reporting the father, or will only be abused even more, because of the report made to the authorities. It is imperative that alongside all the other efforts to combat gender-based violence, we integrate a system in which victims are emotionally educated to be able to make the initial decision to willingly report their case. They need to be fully prepared for the consequences, so as not fall back into the trap of abuse. Equally important, implementing structures (specifically educational and vocational structures) dealing with victims who have successfully reported and escaped abusive relationships, which will deter victims from returning to their perpetrators on the basis of dependency. This sense of security will then allow women the ability to more easily escape relationships of an abusive nature, knowing that they are not in any position to sacrifice their dignity because of social structures. In addition, women need to be ridded of the perceived superiority of men and in doing so, escape the emotional blackmail which is attached to abuse. Let not poverty be an excuse for gender-based violence. Let not patriarchy be an excuse to perpetuate gender-based violence. Let us educate our women academically but equally, let’s educate them emotionally and kill another obstacle in our way of fighting gender-based violence.

*Patience Masua is first-year Bachelor of Law (Honours) student at the University of Namibia


Namibian Sun 2023-03-29

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