The police in the Omusati region have raised concern over the rise in cases of gender-based violence in the region, despite intensified awareness campaigns conducted.
During 2018, about 400 gender-based violence (GBV) cases were reported, while last year, 420 cases were reported. This year, 45 cases have been reported so far.
In January, 35 cases of GBV were reported while 10 cases have been reported to the police this month so far.
Jan Fritz Gawaseb, the deputy commissioner of Omusati regional police, who is also the executive director of Namibia Men For Gender Justice, revealed this during a two-day stakeholder-engagement workshop at Ondangwa last week.
In 2018, 97 cases of rape were reported to the police, while last year, 82 cases were reported and so far this year only eight cases were reported.
Another 107 cases of assault with grievous bodily harm were reported in 2018, while last year 105 cases were reported and this year, eight cases have been reported.
Gawaseb further noted that some of the factors contributing to GBV in the region are alcohol and drug abuse, unemployment, poverty, lack of confidence, traditional norms and beliefs and pride.
Police officers in the region are also facing challenges such as a high number of victims withdrawing their cases due to pressure from relatives of the accused persons and also due to dependency, especially in cases where the accused is the breadwinner and a low number of men are coming forth to report domestic violence cases due to embarrassment.
"With an organisation like this 'Namibia Men For Gender Justice', it could really attract men that are suffering in silence to come forth and report GBV issues happening in their lives. It is a concern, especially in our region, where we have had a high number of suicide cases mostly involving men, while in the end it affects the community at large. Male involvement in gender-based violence prevention and reduction programmes can really give an impetus for men to change," he said.
Gawaseb added that the police in the region are unable to attend to GBV cases on time, sometimes due to limited human and capital resources that hamper the law enforcement officers and rape cases that are reported very late after 72 hours when the evidence has been destroyed and the treatment of rape cases by doctors as normal and not regarded as emergencies.
Salathiel Shinendima, who delivered a speech on behalf of Thomas Keller from Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, said the higher rate of GBV cases has a negative effect on society and it has a critical effect on mental health, as victims become more prone to mental health illnesses such as anxiety, suicidal thoughts, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
"I want to challenge each and every one of you to sue that voice in a manner that results in one less case of GBV. Let us once again, as a nation, work together to end violence against women and children of our beloved country.
This underlines our support to Namibia Men For Gender Justice and their good work in fighting GBV in the country by raising awareness through concrete and informed discussions with all stakeholders. We believe this is necessary and deserving of our support," he said.
The workshop was aimed at mobilising stakeholders and informing them about male involvement in the GBV prevention and reduction programme and subsequent wellness centric workplace training solutions for preventing and reducing the incidents of GBV.