The cost of poverty is unbearably high.

29 November 2021 | Opinion

You could be fooled, if you observe property listings, grumble as another green-plated, tax-funded luxury Mercedes speeds past, or watch the scramble for Black Friday deals.

But poverty, including its extreme form, is a reality in Namibia, affecting far more people than we talk about, or help.

And the price is not only a lack of basics such as food, toilets and housing, but a relinquishment of basic human rights such as health and education.

Chronic poverty pushes people to choose between survival and justice, sacrifice and dignity.

In a recent court case, a girl who was raped when she was 13, by a teacher who was 34, pleaded with the court to keep him out of jail, as did her parents. Why? Because they need his monthly maintenance money to feed the child she bore him as a result of the rape.

For those comfortably cocooned in the lower-middle-income to high-income brackets, this might seem completely unfathomable and bizarre. And without condoning what is a questionable and queasy judgment, it raises important facts.

For a family not knowing where the next meal comes from, keeping a rapist out of jail and in a job comes down to survival. A price worth paying to keep food on the table.

Who will step in when he is locked up for ten to 15 years?

That is the true cost of poverty.

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