Namibia: Women Learn to Understand Domestic Violence

The overarching message a group of women learned during a one-day session held recently to try and understand gender-based violence (GBV) is to give tough love when dealing with children perpetrating domestic violence.

The six women between the ages of 35 and 67 relayed their own experiences of domestic violence, and left the gathering knowing that stricter parenting, respect for one another and honesty when dealing with situations of domestic violence could prevent or reduce such occurrences.

They were part of a bigger group of 47 women and girls from different communities and faith-based organisations such as the Church of the Nazarene, Hope Village, Methodist Church youth and SOS Children's Village. They attended the participatory training sessions at the Ecumenical Social Diaconate Action (ESDA) office in Hochland Park from 17 to 28 May 2021.

Participant Esme Erasmus told New Era that people should reach out and help those suffering from domestic violence.

"The training helped me with knowledge on how to help those in abusive relationships," she observed.

Schariffa Haslond said she learned that people should take responsibility for their actions and choices, and family should assist each other and alert one another about dangers.

"We should also respect each other and be open; it could help avoid situations of violence and/or death," added Haslond.

An elderly woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said elders can sometimes see the dangers their children are involved in, but keep quiet about it for fear of children getting arrested or neighbours gossiping about them.

She stated that some parents allow the violence they get because they are too lenient with their children.

Yvonne Kakololo said she learned to be quieter and calmer, and not always talk back when she is being harassed by her children.

The facilitator of the session, social worker Betsy Basson, said the aim was to understand how domestic violence is linked to suicide, and how sufferers can build self-esteem and confidence.

She noted that in some cases, parents are at fault when allowing domestic violence to continue because they feel sorry for what could happen to their children who perpetrate domestic violence, such as arrest.

"They should also always listen to their children and trust them when they report bad things happening to them, rather than turning a blind eye," said Basson, stressing that domestic violence is a vicious cycle and is sometimes hereditary.

She therefore advised parents to be the ones to make the change.

"Although it's a small start, it is a start," she told participants, adding that self-esteem, self-love, better communication and respect could help in reducing domestic violence.

Basson said they will in future have combined sessions of old and young women, and include adult and young men to try and understand them as well as to see how they can be empowered.

The training was sponsored by MTC with proceeds from its Knockout Project held during October 2019.

Thus far this year, ESDA's Friendly Haven Shelter has taken in 14 adults between the ages of 20 and 49, and 14 minors from eight months to 17 years old.

Last year, they took in 16 adults (19 to 80 years) and 24 minors.

They shelter abused women and their children, referred to them by social workers and the police's Women and Child Protection Unit.

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