Allow me to add my voice to the ongoing public outcry over rampant so-called “passion killings”, mostly perpetrated against women of our society by Namibian men.
What we need to do first is to think inside the box. Violence is in the mind of some men (other perpetrators) before being unleashed or committed in the form of “passion killings” for example. Hence, we need to devise effective ways to get to the mind of men before violence escapes their mind to reality. This I believe is an effective preventative measure.
Gender Communication & Emotional Intelligence
The problem we have is that some men dismally fail to effectively communicate to their women in instances of suspected (real or perceived) infidelity and termination of romantic relationships. And by communicating I don’t mean proposing or other talks, this is a deep and multifaceted aspect of interpersonal relationships that involves serious encoding and decoding of messages between males and females. Effective communication and emotional intelligence are the oxygen to a relationship, without these, it dies. And we have seen that lack of communication and emotional intelligence in romantic relationships has not only ended relationships, but tragically claimed the lives of many women at the hands of Namibian men.
Here are some of the questions we need to grapple with: Why is that that some men cannot discuss cheating and ending of relationships and only end up killing women? What impedes men to seat down with their women and amicably resolve conflicts related to cheating and termination of relationships? Here is what we need to know; Gender Communication stereotypes suggest that women are more inclined to share of their problems, emotions, etc. in conversations than men. On the other hand, men are apparently tough and those who display their emotions are even relegated to weak men.
This is the reason why most men cannot gather the necessary emotional intelligence to discuss these issues with their female partners. They fail the litmus test of communication in a relationship. So what then do they do? Instead, they are engulfed by a seemingly formidable avalanche of emotions and rage, which they are unable to overcome (because they are not equipped with the necessary emotional intelligence capabilities to do so). Hence, you find some men resorting to violence; using a gun, knife, panga, etc. to shoot/stab their female partners. I believe that in most cases, these senseless killings would have been avoided if men had the said communication abilities under such circumstances. Some men cannot express their anger by way of communication, but by action (mostly violence). This is a weakness in some men. This dangerous pattern of behaviour is shaped by the environment and ways in which they are brought up.
Therefore, a diagnostic approach should be employed to ascertain corrigible aspects in the upbringing of the boy child in society, especially in areas where these so-called “passion killings” allegedly occur mostly. This already gives us a glimpse that some men from these areas may have grown up/may be growing up with a certain behavioural attitude that leads to these problems in their romantic relationships. It could be that boys growing up in these areas are not well-taught or skilled to express their rage by communicating without resorting to violence when they are young. If this is the case, it would then be impossible or very arduous for a grown up men who was brought up in such a setting to initiate let alone partake in communication (which they never practiced at a tender age) aimed at resolving these complex romantic relationships problems (i.e. being cheated on by girlfriend). We certainly cannot expect such a man to all of a sudden be able to master effective communication and emotional intelligence, when he learns that a lady whom he has financially supported (money, paying of rent, buying her a car etc.) for a considerable or even a short period of time has suddenly decides to end their relationship or cheating with another man. Instead, he will be overwhelmed by rage which he cannot overcome or express in any other way apart from violence. The only way he has known for men to express rage since he was growing up is through violence.
Emotional intelligence should be learned. Let me give a classic example; in some “passion killing” cases, it has be reported that after hearing infidelity rumours with their women, some men come from their workplaces with the aim of busting their cheating partners and shoot them. In this case, one can already see that communication is completely out of question. This already tells you that this person thinks that the only way to express his rage is by violence, i.e. shooting his women and himself. He does not think of any other way of showing his women that he is very angary (he has no idea of any other way like dialogue) apart from violence. That is where the problem is.
Death Penalty and Bail
It should be clearly understood that these issues are communication related. Laws can be helpful. I don’t believe that any amount of constitutional amendments or introduction of the death penalty can prevent “passion killings” or gender-based violence. I still need to be convinced on how amending the law not grant bail to suspects and introducing the death penalty will prevent the carnage. In my view, death penalty is a punitive measure, meaning you are executing a person who has already committed a crime, not preventing them from committing a crime. History has taught us that some men kill their women and themselves too. So how then will death penalty assist in this instance? Are you going to execute a corpse or somebody who has already committed suicide? And by the way, who will be so experimental and adventurous with their lives that they would kill/stab their partners to death and wait for them to be executed before committing suicide? Simply put, having a death penalty in place means that you are just seating comfortably waiting for people to kill so that you kill them too (or even waiting for more people to kill so that you kill many too); but you are not doing anything to prevent them from killing in the first place. If people continue to kill and commit suicide as is the case in numerous instances of “passion was killing”, what are you going to do with your death penalty? The death penalty will be of no use in my view.
Or are you going to say that; well, so and so is suspected to be planning to shoot/stab his girlfriend, let’s execute him before killing the girlfriend? And again, bail is only granted to those who are suspects (or killers) being trailed in the courts, meaning they have already committed the crime anyways. I am again not convinced as to how not granting bail to suspects in these cases will reduce the killings as it is. It is just like saying, let them kill as they want, when they come to court, we will show them that there is no bail for them, ridiculous right? Are we really convinced that these people who are also ready to kill themselves are going to be deterred by a prison sentence? Well, I don’t think that these people commit “passion killing” thinking of bail, prison or what the constitution says. And this is where I think we are getting it wrong. These men have a problem of expressing their rage in these circumstances only through violence/killing. What we need to do is teach them another way of expressing their rage without resorting to killings. Education is important, and then you will see good results. The death penalty, constitutional amendments or prison is not going to teach them, but vigorous awareness campaigns will.
These killings emanate from a certain mentality harboured by some men. As I alluded to earlier, we need to devise effective ways to get to the mind of men before violence escapes their mind to reality. Do we only want to punish offenders or prevent these barbaric killings in the first place? I think we are mixing up the two and getting confused. There is a difference between harshly punishing offenders and preventing people from becoming offenders. The problem we are faced with is not a granting of a bail problem or constitutional problem; it is a problem of some men who cannot express rage to their women via communication without being violent, and instead get engulfed by anger. It is a problem of some men who are unable to overcome their anger. Importantly, it is a challenge of lack of emotional intelligence in some men who cannot handle interpersonal communication with their female partners when they very angry under the circumstances explained hereinabove.
To solve this problem, we need to think inside the box before running to the constitution, court or police. If anything, I don’t think these men kill their women simply because they want to kill; I think they lack the capacity to express their rage by communicating, because by killing we are all convinced that they are expressing their rage. They need to be assisted on appropriate ways of expressing rage to their women in all circumstances. I think they just become victims of poor or lack of emotional intelligence in those difficult situations which they are not equipped to bear the brunt of. We need to start here by equipping them. How do we boost or even plant emotional intelligence capabilities in Namibian men for them to be emotionally sound? The best place to do that is not the constitution or courts, it is their minds.
In previous years, NAMPOL had a very wonderful initiative of “TALK DON’T SHOOT”. This was a brilliant idea because it attempted to get to the mind of men before violence escapes it to reality in form of “passion killings”. It really tried to teach men how to express their rage by way of communication and not by simply killing/shoot. This awareness initiative was targeting the real problem by educating men to learn emotional intelligence and equip them with better interpersonal communication skills, for them to be able to solve problems in their relationships and shun “passion killings”. This campaign was a very smart and targeted imitative, a step in the right direction that in my view needs to be urgently revived and vigorously pursued. There is a need to involve social workers and communication experts and other professionals in public awareness campaigns such as “TALK DON’T SHOOT”. Awareness campaigns of this nature should really aim to educate Namibian men about emotional intelligence and interpersonal communication under very difficult circumstances such infidelity and break-ups in their romantic relationships.
Above all, and as the First Lady said, Namibian men should learn to practice forgiveness, tolerance and respect women.