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Sunday 18 August 2019
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Unfolding the Truth – GBV

The American Cultural Centre recently hosted a panel discussion titled “Unfolding the Truth” moderated by Bernardus Harageib on the topic of Gender Based Violence.
The panellists were Dr Mara Mberira, James Ithana, Edmund Khoaseb and Lizette Feris.
They grappled with the issue of whether society is ‘ready or willing to frankly look at all the options giving rise to this phenomena that is destroying or families and communities?’
Many questions were raised as to how society views and what is the response to rape. What are the narratives that are put forward every time one hears of an instance of GBV and what language do we use to address same narratives?
According to the panel, there has to be remedial intervention which would require the political will of government who are the law makers.
Domestic violence is a form of gender-based violence which arises from the unequal power relations between women and men. It is also described as a gender-based crime where the majority of abusers are men and the majority of victims are women.
Namibia as a country seems to be awash with legislative provisions in curbing gender based violence, yet the statistics do not show to a curb in GBV cases. Ithana commented that its time, operational plans are put in place but to ensure that the right skills are utilised to handle victims of GBV.
Mberira commented that until we treat GBV as something that is mainstream and not incidental, only then will we witness positive behaviour. She also addressed the notion where both the perpetrator and victim both feel “I am not enough”.
Often women remain in these relationships, much to the dismay of the onlookers, because they feel inadequate to leave.
The impacts of GBV are many and complicated. Of course, the survivor of the violence suffers the trauma and indignity of the event, and whatever physical injury that might result.
GBV can also result in death.  While there are resources available to help those who have experienced violence, gender discrimination towards women and their resulting lower socio-economic status mean that women have fewer options and resources at their disposal to avoid or escape abusive situations and to seek justice. They also suffer consequences to their sexual and reproductive health, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and resulting deaths and higher risks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV.
The National Gender Policy (NGP) of Namibia 2010-2020 refers to GBV as “all forms of violence that happen to women, girls, men and boys because of the unequal power relations between them.” It further states that “causes of gender-based violence include customs, traditions and beliefs, illiteracy and limited education, unequal power relations, and the low status of women.”
The NGP also identifies rape and domestic violence as the two most common forms of GBV in Namibia and sustains the international acknowledgement of women’s disproportionate experience of violence.
The most efficient response is more likely to involve revising existing policies and resource distribution, rather than attempting to implement completely new responses.
While it is obviously important to understand the structures that maintain gender inequality, interactions on a micro level are as important to consider. Wherever people interact, gender dynamics are in play. And depending on the space those people occupy, those gender dynamics can have a significant impact on society at large. There are many voices speaking out against GBV, including those of survivors, activists, government institutions, educational spaces and the media.
The discussion concluded with  more questions than answers, but agreed that certain members of society such as religious institutions, families, education systems, government, business, sports codes and media amongst others, have vital roles to play in combatting the scourge that is GBV and uplifting victims, giving them a voice and freeing them from the shame and pain that comes with abuse.




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