Namibia: Fewer GBV Cases Reported During Lockdown

THE Windhoek City Police and the Namibian Police have recorded a decrease in cases related to gender-based violence (GBV) in the capital during the lockdown months.

City Police chief Abraham Kanime this week said that restrictions on the sale of alcohol during lockdown played an important role in the decrease.

"A contributing factor could be a total closure of alcohol in April," Kanime said.

He said the police have recorded a total of 1 050 GBV cases since January, and added that violent cases, including assault, rape, robbery and murder typically involve alcohol.

GBV cases have decreased from 209 in January to 111 in May, Kanime said.

State of emergency restrictions came into effect on 17 March this year, including banning the sale of alcohol.

The number of reported cases consequently decreased in the second half of the month.

A total of 1 050 cases since January means an average of 175 cases per month for the first half of 2020.

The months with the lowest number of cases are April, with 114 cases, and May, with 111 cases.

This is low in comparison to February, which saw 239 cases.

The Namibian reported last year the City Police responded to an average of 200 cases a month during the same period.

Kanime said cases are currently on the rise again, with 158 GBV cases reported by mid-June. The sale of alcohol became permissible under stage 3 regulations on 2 June.

More victims seeking counselling

While the police recorded a decrease in reported cases, Regain Trust, a women and children's organisation, has recorded triple the usual number of GBV cases during the lockdown months.

GBV victims normally call the organisation seeking counselling.

In a joint statement with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) last week, the organisation said it recorded an increase from 10 to 36 domestic violence cases per month for March and April.

Senior counsellor at the trust, Constance Muparadzi, last month said counselling cases were on the rise as victims were "forced to stay in an unsafe environment, spending most of the lockdown with the perpetrators of abuse."

FES project manager Slyvia Mundjindi acknowledged that the police have experienced a decrease in cases since the state of emergency.

This is likely due to underreporting, she said.

"Other service providers, such as the police, have not been as forthcoming with their services. A lot of people have lost confidence in the police when reporting such matters. Many police officers treat it as if it is a private matter which should be resolved at home," Mundjindi said.

Kanime insisted, however, that there has not been a decrease in access to the police during the lockdown.

Last month, The Namibian also reported an increase in the incidence of GBV in the past months.

While the number of domestic violence victims seeking shelter dropped, there was an increase in those seeking counselling. Psychologist Iani Kock at Bel Espirit mental health clinic said victims may be reporting less due to lockdown conditions, such as being in close proximity with their abuser.

The Namibian understands that for shelter to be provided to a victim of GBV, a case must first be opened with the police.

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