Strengthening efforts to overcome gender-based violence in Namibia

UNAIDS

02/04/2014

A new assessment report released by Victims 2 Survivors and UNAIDS is looking at the structural and institutional response to gender-based violence (GBV) in Namibia.

The report was disseminated during the commemoration of Orange Day, observed across the world on the 25th of every month, which takes its title from the official colour of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Unite to End Violence against Women campaign.

Gender-based violence (GBV) in Namibia: an exploratory assessment and mapping of GBV response services in Windhoek analyses the challenges encountered by survivors while trying to access services. It also makes key recommendations, including strengthening multisectoral coordination mechanisms, developing relevant standards and protocols to guide service provision, integrating GBV prevention and survivor support into reproductive health and HIV programmes and establishing a free national GBV helpline.

Bience Gawanas, Special Adviser to the Minister of Health of Namibia, emphasized the need for a change in the gender norms of the country and an end to tolerance for GBV. “Let us make the invisible visible, and give a voice to the voiceless.”

According to WHO, one third of Namibian women have experienced or will experience intimate partner violence during their life. Nine out of ten victims of domestic violence are women and 33% of young women who were sexually active before the age of 15 report that their first experience was forced.

In his address to the nation on 21 February, the President of Namibia, Hifikepunye Pohamba, highlighted concrete measures to be taken by the government to reduce the alarming increase of violence against women. These included amending constitutional acts to tighten the requirements for bail and denying parole and giving longer prison sentences to perpetrators of GBV.

President Pohamba also declared 6 March as the national day of prayer for action against GBV in Namibia. “The lives of too many women and girls have been destroyed or disrupted,” said President Pohamba. “Gender-based violence, in all its manifestations, should not be tolerated in Namibia. Let us join hands, to make our country safer, for all, including our women and girls.”

During the Orange Day event, Father Richard Bauer emphasized the importance of involving faith communities in the fight against GBV. “Faith leaders can be crucial allies if they are empowered to intervene, prevent and heal. It’s an incredible amount of work, but can become a reality, if we all work together and acknowledge our mutual strengths,” he added.