Gender violence

A Namibian human rights organization has joined hands with local tertiary students to embark on a house-to-house campaign in a quest against the prevailing gender-based violence in Namibia.

Monica Gender Based Violence Solution said volunteers are educating citizens in Namibia’s Capital Windhoek on human rights, law and relationship dispute resolution.

Namibia is battling with prevalent cases of gender-based violence. Between November 2017 and January 2018, 552 cases of gender-based violence were registered with the police. Statistics by the Namibian Police further show that nearly 50,000 cases related to gender-based violence were reported between 2014 and 2016.

Shaanika Nashilongo, head of legal affairs at the organisation, said Friday that efforts to educate people in their homes in Windhoek is to bridge discomfort associated with speaking out in public and further to reach a wider audience.

“Although we held various public sessions on gender-based violence before, we found out that in many cases, people prefer to discuss such issues in confidence or in the comfort of their homes. Through house-to-house sessions, we thus accord them privacy and confidentiality,” he said.

On a Friday morning, Remisia Heita, a humanities student at the University of Namibia who volunteers with the organization was welcomed into a home in Windhoek’s Havana informal settlement. Here, she talked to dwellers about gender-based violence and handed out brochures.

“My heart bleeds when I read about or hear of cases of gender-based violence, especially gender-based violence, hence my decision to volunteer with the organization to educate people,” she said.

For Heita, gender-based gender violence happens every day. “This is happening because majority of the people here do not have access to adequate information. As such, in instances they are abused, most people do not know what to do or at times are unaware of their rights,” she said.

As part of the campaign, the volunteers bring together information on the law, human rights and social skills to make up the content to be shared.

While information is currently geared towards adults, the long-term goal of the organization is to reduce manifestation of violence and impact on children.

“Gender-based violence also greatly affects children, leading them to become violent which culminates in violent behavior and society at large. Thus, passion for human development and prosperity of citizens drives our campaign. We want to address injustices,” Nashilongo added.

In the interim, as Heita completes her session, she said her hope would be to reach out to more men, who are culturally seen as strong.

“Men also need to open up. Men also have emotions, feelings and can feel bad. And, too often men are seen as perpetrators. Our key message is that: a safe avenue and time need to be create for people to speak up,” said Heita.

“Therefore, we would like to reach out to the men, to educate them as much as we educate women.” This, she said, is critical for balanced and unbiased society in the fight against gender-based violence. Enditem

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