Men urged to raise voice against GBV

The White Ribbon Campaign has centred its focus on getting men to stand up and speak out against GBV.

17 April 2019 | Local News

At least one in three Namibian women faces some form of violence from a man, which underlines the urgent need for men to take centre stage to help end the epidemic of abuse against women and children in the country.

“The violence will only cease when many more men and the organisations they are involved with all say it is wrong, that the violence must stop and attitudes must change,” says Chris Green, the founder and executive director of the White Ribbon Campaign UK, which has a branch in Namibia.

Green, who was in Namibia to provide support to the local White Ribbon branch, stressed that silence from men around the continued rampage of violence against women and children “is not an option. Silence excuses domestic violence, rape, so called honour-based violence and controlling behaviour”.

The White Ribbon campaign is a self-financing movement that is pushing for men and boys to take a defining role and responsibility to reduce violence and abuse against women and children through education, discussion and action.

Studies have shown that at least one in three women aged between 15 and 49 in Namibia has experienced physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse and violence from her spouse.

Meanwhile, 15% of women reportedly have never sought help or told anyone of the violence they experienced, though these numbers could be much higher experts warned.

Only 4% of abuse victims have gone to the police to seek help or report the violence, studies have shown.

In Namibia, 28% of women and 22% of men still believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife for any of five specified reasons.



Pledge

The White Ribbon campaign works with men and boys to challenge male cultures that lead to harassment, abuse and violence.

Volunteer ambassadors engage with other men and boys to call out such behaviour among their peers and to promote a culture of equality and respect.

Globally, at least 40 000 men have taken the White Ribbon pledge “never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women”.

Green said a core issue underlying men's violent actions against women and children is a fundamental “wish to control someone else, and denying them the rights to their own existence. Violence can become the threat of violence, but coercive control is still an illegal act.”

Green said during his visit to Namibia there were encouraging signs that more men are becoming aware of the role they can and should play to tackle widespread abuse and violence.

His own involvement, he said, was his need to play a part in ending gender-based violence.

Yet the campaign in Namibia faces severe challenges, he said.

Whereas in other countries the white ribbon has become a well-known symbol of men involved in tackling violence, in Namibia the campaign still needs basic start-up support to widen its impact.





JANA-MARI SMITH

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