In Namibia, gender-based violence (GBV) has traditionally been regarded as a private matter and shrouded in a culture of silence. As a result, cases of GBV are under-reported because of shame, stigma and fear of retribution.
Unfortunately, the victims of GBV are mostly women and children.
GBV constitutes a wide range of abuses, from physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family and in the general community, battering, sexual abuse of children, dowry-related violence, rape and non-spousal violence, to violence related to exploitation, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking of women, forced prostitution and other traditional practices harmful to women. In extreme cases GBV, results in death.
The Government has enacted several laws to address GBV such as: Combating of Domestic Violence Act No. 4 of 2003, Combating of the Rape Act No. 8 of 2000, Maintenance Act No. 9 of 2003, Married Persons Equality Act No. 1 of 1996, and Children Status Act No. 6 of 2006. Such laws have been used variously to deal with GBV.
This year, Namibia is again participating in the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence on Women and Girls that started on November 25. The event ends on December 16, which is Human Rights Day, as well as Namibia Women's Day.
The Africa UNITE global campaign was launched in February 2008 with the overall objective of increasing public awareness, political will and resources for preventing and responding to violence against women and girls.
It is clear that GBV remains a global concern and requires collective efforts by all. Officials say it is each and every person's responsibility to engage in the fight against gender-based violence by becoming an instrument of peace.