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Namibians Tolerate Gender Based Violence

By Ndanki Kahiurika

A UNITED Nations Economic and Social Council report released in March this year says Namibians tolerate and accept domestic violence, while offering little protection to victims.

These observations were made and adopted in March after the UN's committee on economic, social and cultural rights considered an initial report on Namibia on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at its meetings held in February this year.

"The committee notes with concern that domestic violence and abuse are condoned or tolerated by the majority of the population in the country. The committee is also concerned at the limited effectiveness of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act of 2003 in protecting children and victims in rural areas," the report reads.

They thus recommended that the government should continue to raise awareness as domestic violence is a serious violation of human rights.

Ombudsman John Walters, however, told The Namibian that he disagreed with the findings, saying they damage the country's image.

He questioned the method the UN committee used to come to such conclusions, but said this should also serve as a wake-up call for Namibians. "We need to start teaching our children to respect people's differences, beliefs and cultures so that they do not find it difficult to accept things. As parents, we must lead by example so that our children do not veer off track," he stated.

The report urged Namibia to monitor and assess the impact of the 2005 campaign on gender-based violence and other plans on the population's perception of violence.

Lastly, the country should also address the obstacles faced by victims of violence seeking remedies and obtaining protection under the Combating of Domestic Violence Act, and furthermore take effective measures for bringing perpetrators to justice.

But human rights activist Rosa Namises agreed with the findings that Namibians accept domestic violence.

"Namibians have normalised domestic and gender-based violence, as it is practised on a daily basis," she stressed.

Namises said even when these cases are reported, the laws are too weak to ensure that justice takes it course."

People go out (of jail) on bail, just to go and commit even worse crimes.

Cases such as a grandmother being threatened for her pension money or quarrels between husband and wife are ignored. Later, one kills the other," she said, adding that she deals with so many victims of gender-based violence regularly.

Namibian Police commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi said the police have dealt with a lot of gender-based violence cases, and many people have been arrested and dealt with.

"There are laws in place for protection orders and other ways to protect people. Even I once received a protection order," he said, adding that the UN report is unfair.Kanguatjivi said Namibia is not the only country with domestic violence issues, as there are worse cases in other countries.

But Namibia should definitely do more campaigning to end this.