Addressing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Namibia

MenEngage Namibia, as a national network of organisations working with men and boys to end Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) – which is part of the global MenEngage Network – is expressing its support and solidarity with recent protests against SGBV in Namibia.

We are very concerned about the rising number of SGBV cases, affecting children, women and men of all ages, and we welcome the Namibian government’s recent response in this regard. In addition, we see the strong need for consistency and inclusivity in Government’s response and for stakeholders across all sectors to also address underlying root causes.

Some of these underlying root causes are patriarchal traditions, harmful gender norms, unresolved individual and collective trauma, as well as violence as an automated and learned response to conflict. The latter became clearly visible in how uniformed forces responded with excessive force against loud and angry, but overall peaceful protesters.

We also call for the Namibian Government to be inclusive and consistent in its response to SGBV, and we are appalled to hear that Namibia intends to not renew its signature to the East and Southern Africa Ministerial Commitment on Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE), which would reverse previous successes made in preventing SBGV.

Given Namibia’s identity as secular state, it is of utmost importance that our religious and cultural norms do not obstruct the local and international commitments we have made to ensure the rights and well-being of our Namibian adolescents and youth.

Meaningfully engaging young people in open and inclusive ways on issues of sexuality, consent and healthy relationship through CSE is a proven way of preventing SGBV all over the world and also in Namibia. This has been established and reaffirmed through the work done by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, the Office of the First Lady of Namibia and a growing number of Namibian Civil Society Organisations that are active in this field.

It is abundantly clear that we will not be able to overcome the challenge of sexual and gender-based violence by responding with violence or exclusion in return. Instead, we have to provide every Namibian with sufficient knowledge, skills and resources to support victims and to deal with perpetrators in appropriate manners to end the harmful and dangerous cycle of violence in our country.

Hence, for the health and well-being of all Namibians, we demand the following:

  1. In addition to actions already outlined in the Namibian Government’s response, we urge Namibia to immediately recommit to its international agreements around CSE, because it effectively addresses and prevents SGBV in Namibia;
  2. Secondly, we ask for the Namibian Police and other uniformed forces to receive comprehensive training in de-escalation of conflict situations and in approaching SGBV-related situations and cases effectively, sensitively and empathically.
  3. Lastly, substantially more resources must be allocated for the provision of psychosocial support services and in developing capacity in terms of training and studies in the field of social work, psychology and other relevant health professions.

As Namibians, it is crucial that we deliberately include marginalized communities and individuals in our collective efforts to prevent and respond to SGBV in all its forms. In this regard, MenEngage Namibia will continue playing a strong role in advocating for and supporting the implementation of inclusive activities against SGBV.

For more information, please contact:

  • Mr. Salatiel Shinedima – MenEngage Namibia, Chairperson
    Email: salatiel@wad.org.na & Cell: 081 717 20 54
  • Ms. Linda Baumann – MenEngage Namibia, Steering Committee Member
    Email: lbaumann82@gmail.com & Cell: 081 252 82 59
  • Mr. Ben Schernick – MenEngage Namibia, Steering Committee Member
    Email: ben@ccchange.net & Cell: 081 229 48 03

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