… As we commemorate 16 Days of Activism
As the world ushered in the commemoration of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, the senior City Police officer who has been accused of raping a 16-year-old girl on three different occasions, and who until recently had not suffered any consequence, was denied bail in the Katutura Magistrate’s Court this past Tuesday.
The rapes allegedly took place during March, April and May of this year.
Omar Saleem Jossob, 39, was arrested on Monday, 25 November 2019. Jossob is the victim’s godfather and raped the 16 year old in her parental home in March while her mother was away.
The charges against him as announced by public prosecutor Cleopatra Boois are three counts of rape, read with the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act.
The matter was further postponed to 19 March 2020, and the accused was denied bail.
The plaintiff in the matter filed a bailed statement which notes that she lives in fear for her personal safety as the accused is a close and trusted person within her immediate family.
The victim, for fear of the repercussions, only opened up about her assault during September of this year.
She confided in a trusted person and the matter was reported at that time.
It, however, took the police three months before arresting the suspect, stating that since they only had the word of the victim, it was difficult to build a case.
Despite the arrest planned for last week, the Police kept postponing citing the unavailability of a vehicle to execute the arrest and after an intervention by City Police Chief, only then did the arrest materialise.
The victim’s mother speaks
“We are truly just relieved, we just want to believe that justice will be served because as we heard he is trying to appeal for a formal bail application, but at least we feel a sense of relief.”
The mother relates to The Patriot the traumatic nature of the ordeal and how it affects her daughter’s wellbeing and psychological health.
“It has seriously been very difficult for her to cope.
She has been dealing with feelings of fear and questioning herself, and she has even been having these suicidal thoughts; I take her to a psychologist once a week because it has not been easy for her at all.”
Having to continue with attending school has equally been hard for the victim.
Some days her mother would receive a call to pick her up from school since she was experiencing anxiety and could not complete that school day.
“I always feel so bad about the mere fact that he was a friend of mine, and a trusted friend, and even a godfather; I mean we really trusted him so much.
The worst part is that I am the one who introduced him to the kid. Now just look at what he did; it is seriously traumatic for me.”
The accused was a close family friend and allegedly manipulated that bond with the family, and violated the trust they had in him, when he assaulted his own goddaughter.
“Our children grow up together and played together, but he never even came to me, as a human being, to apologise or to say something to us as a family.
He has just been walking around with his chest puffed out as if nothing had happened.
As if he didn’t do anything at all. It is really so heart-breaking.”
The trial for the case with CR no.116/09/19 is set to begin in March 2020.
16 Days of activism against gender-based violence
While the names, times and contexts may differ, women and girls universally experience rape, sexual violence, and abuse, in times of peace or war.
Rape is rooted in a complex set of patriarchal beliefs, power, and control that continue to create a social environment in which sexual violence is pervasive and normalised.
Exact numbers of rape and sexual assaults are notoriously difficult to confirm due to frequent latitude and impunity for perpetrators, stigma towards survivors, and their subsequent silence.
This is the time of year when people come together and speak out on one topic of ending violence against women and girls.
In the streets, in schools, offices, villages and cities, every year, people around the world galvanise to raise awareness and take action during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
It is the duty of society to listen to survivors when they speak up; to know the facts of the matter and to encourage them to share their story; with the police, with a trusted friend, or with a psychologist.
The 16 days run from 25 November, through to Human Rights Day on 10 December 2019.