Windhoek — Windhoek women and gender non-conforming residents took to the streets yesterday in protest against the gender-based violence (GBV) scourge in the country. The peaceful demonstration was part of the hashtag activism social movement, #TOTALSHUTDOWN, that also held protests in South Africa, Botswana and Lesotho yesterday.
The movement saw women and gender non-conforming individuals take a stand on their rights. The movement was started by women who are concerned about the growing statistics of femicide and other incidents of gender-based violence. The page on Facebook which is exclusively for women and gender non-conformists, has created a platform for women and gender non-conforming individuals to share their stories openly.
The peaceful demonstration started from the Katutura hospital, then on to the Katutura police station, and ended at the Katutura Magistrate's Court. The aim of the march was to mourn the lives lost due to GBV in Southern Africa and protest against the recent violence perpetrated by police officers against their partners and the murder of Alina Kakehongo, 24, by her former lover and member of the police force.
Numerous recommendations were handed over by social activist Rosa Namises, from Women Coalition against GBV, to Deputy Minister of Justice Ludwina Shapwa, Nampol's Khomas regional commander, Commissioner Silvanus Nghishidimbwa and senior social worker at the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Charline Uakuramenua.
The women are appealing to the justice ministry to work together with the police, non-governmental organisations and the gender ministry in prioritising the finalisation of outstanding cases of rape and femicide. Furthermore, conduct a review of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act (2003) in order to include gender non-conforming individuals and key populations as groups that must be protected from GBV.
According to the Women Coalition against GBV, 24 percent of women in Namibia have experienced GBV, but the numbers are presumed to be higher as some cases are not reported due to the low level of safety offered to women in the country who feel that their lives might be in danger. In 2016, 50,000 cases of GBV were totalled as having been reported over a period of three years.
In Southern Africa, six countries have conducted violence against women baseline studies, which revealed that gender-based violence is pervasive across the region. The highest prevalence is reported in Zambia where 89 percent of women experienced violence in their lifetime. Meanwhile, 86 percent of women in Lesotho, 68 percent in Zimbabwe, 67 percent in Botswana and 50 percent in South Africa have experienced GBV.