Women deserve better

30 November 2018 | Columns

Two stories we carried yesterday once again highlighted the uphill battle women are facing the world over in terms of securing equality and other simple rights which men take for granted.

The first dealt with so-called ‘traditional beliefs’ that are leading to gender-based violence being used to ‘discipline’ women in the Kavango regions. Generally, it is apparently accepted in these communities that it is right when a man beats his wife. A phrase has even been coined in Rukwangali - ‘mungwa gepata’ - which refers to this as a form of discipline.

The second story dealt with an unfolding sex-for-jobs scandal at the African Union.

Namibia’s very own Bience Gawanas, who is a former AU commissioner and the current United Nations special advisor on Africa, revealed that the UN is facing similar challenges

She was reacting to recent bombshell revelations that an AU high-level committee investigation had confirmed the prevalence of sexual harassment perpetuated by supervisors, who demand sex from short-term contract staff, as well as interns and youth volunteers, in exchange for permanent jobs.

Gawanas added that the outcome of the investigation should serve as a wake-up call for many organisations, both continentally and globally.

According to an AU statement, it appointed a committee on 24 May to fully investigate all alleged institutional malpractices, following allegations of the harassment of women made in an anonymous letter.

The statement said from the evidence presented to the committee, both male and female superiors were reportedly harassing and bullying their subordinates.

Both these shocking stories paint a bleak picture of what women are facing in Namibia, as well as continentally and globally.

The basic rights of not being beaten by a spouse for alleged cheekiness or not being harassed at a workplace remains out of reach for females the world over.

This has severe impacts on the economic development of women, and by implication their families. It is shocking that archaic stereotypes and practices still blight the modern-day landscape. They need to be pulled out root and stem.

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