Source: New Era
The Commission of the African Union has heaped praise on the Namibian government for taking bold steps in tackling the upsurge in gender-based violence (GBV).

The post-conflict expert at the African Union said that in so doing the Namibian government has demonstrated leadership at the highest level by mobilizing a whole nation around this social crime.

“The message is loud and clear. Namibia has come a long way and GBV, as the crime that it is, will not cripple the social and economic development of neither the nation nor the security and well-being of the people of Namibia be they women, children or men,” said Antonia N’Gabala-Sodonon, an expert in post-conflict reconstruction and the coordinator for Gender, Peace and Security, at the African Union Commission.

N’Gabala-Sodonon made these remarks last week during the Second National Conference on Gender-Based Violence in Windhoek under the theme “Unifying Action Against Gender-Based Violence in Namibia.”

She said as the world was preparing to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Resolution 1325 in 2015, the African Union Commission would continue to look with pride towards Namibia as a champion on issues of gender and gender-based violence on the continent.

“This leadership is in line with the leadership displayed in 2000 by Namibia in tabling Resolution 1325 before the UN Security Council. Resolution 1325 has become the global and continental framework around which governments, gender advocates and practitioners all over the world have rallied to ensure women participation in issues of peace and security,” she added.

She noted that moreover Resolution 1325 calls specifically for the protection of women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence including in emergency and humanitarian situations; and for improving intervention strategies in the prevention of violence against women by prosecuting the perpetrators and for strengthening women’s rights under national laws.

The AU expert further commended the GBV conference for the wide-ranging participation of government institutions together with parliamentarians, women, men and youth organizations, religious and traditional leaders, the media and the private sector.

“Your Excellency (President Hifikepunye Pohamba) as addressing gender-based violence calls for all to be involved and for men to be part of the solution, you indeed have been leading through example by frontally tackling the issue and putting into place a comprehensive multi-sectorial short, medium and long-term strategy that will see a dramatic reduction if not the elimination of GBV in Namibia,” she said.

N’Gabala-Sodonon stated that in some African countries the level of gender-based violence and sexual violence has sadly reached a point where it presents a threat to national security and hinders development by excluding a large number of people.

She said that Article 4 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (known as the Maputo Protocol) was in place to address GBV.

The Maputo Protocol was adopted in 2003 and focuses on violence against women. It calls for the state to take measures to address violence which takes place in “private or public” settings.

Article 4 also provides for the punishment of perpetrators, identification of causes of violence against women and the provision of services for survivors.

She said the challenge has been the fluttering political will to address the issues and the slow implementation at national level.

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