Source: The Namibian
THE 16 days of activism against gender-based violence (GBV) kicked off with women - and a handful of men - marching down Independence Avenue on Friday to demonstrate their frustration over the unrelenting violence against women and children in the country.

Father Lukas Katenda of the Council of Churches (CCN) said the country is "crying for sound homes and parenthood".

November 25 is internationally recognised as the day for the elimination of violence against women. The 16 days of activism against GBV ends on December 10, which is commemorated as the day of the Namibian woman.

National Assembly Speaker Theo-Ben Gurirab urged men - who are responsible for most violence perpetrated against women and children - to do a thorough examination of themselves.

He said regional governors, as well as traditional and church leaders should organise special meetings for men to address the issue, and said this should culminate in a national conference for men to openly discuss issues that "forces" men to take brutal action against weaker members of society.

"Men should come up with strategies of solving the problem of GBV. This could also help to guide our sons to become gentlemen and not bullies," said Gurirab.

Namibia's gender violence statistics is a cause of grave concern.

In 2007, there were 12 563 GBV cases reported to the Police. A slight decrease was registered the following year at 11 611, but the figures picked up in 2009 to 11 882, and 11 854 in 2010.

This year's statistics are not yet out, but Khomas governor Samuel Nujoma said judging from media reports, the situation remains dire.

According to Police statistics, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm is the most common charge, followed by rape and murder with firearms or other means.

"When you think of our population [size], and knowing also that not every case is being reported to the Police, this becomes frightening," said Nujoma.

"Our countrymen are becoming more monstrous by the day and all fingers are directed at men. I am still asking this question: what went wrong with the men who were supposed to be the protectors of women and children?"

Nujoma said while the country prides itself in having sustained political peace, such peace should also be extended to homes and communities.

"We should all enjoy our independence and freedom and together build our country that future generations will be proud of," he stressed.

Government launched a zero tolerance against GBV campaign in 2009, which is still continuing.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare has similarly drafted a training manual on male involvement to fight GBV, and sexual reproductive health, and HIV-AIDS.

Gender Minister Doreen Sioka suggested that regional governors should identify men of good reputation to be trained as trainers in this regard.


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