Windhoek – SADC member states have been urged to take into account the gender aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic as the region joins the rest of the world in marking the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
The anti-GBV campaign also incorporates a campaign against all forms of abuse of women.
This week, SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Tax said, “As we take part in the 16 Days of Activism Campaign during this ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it is important that we acknowledge the gender dimensions of this health pandemic, especially considering that women and children are more vulnerable to economic shocks brought about by such pandemics. We must consider a comprehensive and multi-stakeholder response to GBV as an essential service within the wider COVID-19 response at national levels.
“As such, SADC calls upon all stakeholders, at both the national and regional levels, to cooperate towards eliminating this social ill from our society. Response to GBV is not the responsibility of the State apparatus alone. Let us, therefore, join hands and work together to take the right actions in supporting those who are vulnerable to GBV, especially women and children, to stay safe and free from violence and to avoid a double exposure to both COVID-19 and gender-based violence.”
The theme for the 16 Days Campaign this year is
This year’s theme of “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent and Collect”, which Dr Tax said “highlights calls for a comprehensive multi-dimensional global response to GBV, especially in view of the worsening socio-economic conditions compounded by the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic”.
She said SADC recognised GBV as a serious concern, and had thus adopted strategies to co-ordinate interventions, including the Protocol on Gender and Development and the Regional Strategy and Framework of Action on Addressing Gender-Based Violence.
“SADC commends the efforts and commitment demonstrated by SADC member states to strengthen their respective responses to GBV, and encourage them to continue implementing concrete measures to combat the social problem. In this regard, the national campaigns against GBV, development of sex-offender registers, and capacity building initiatives for law enforcement agencies are some of the initiatives that are highly commendable. It is imperative that these measures are strengthened, especially in light of the increase in cases of GBV that were compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Namibia’s Gender, Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Minister Doreen Sioka attributed rising incidences of GBV in the country to substance and alcohol abuse, and called for the implementation of stronger legislation against perpetrators.
“Though cases of GBV were not that many during the lockdown, due to the absence of alcohol, the ones that happened shuddered our hearts as they ended in gruesome death of either one or both partners; and in most cases leaving behind double orphans, who have to be added to the ever soaring children grant budget for orphans and vulnerable children under the ministry.
“The facts still remain that the deteriorating moral fabric of our society continues to go down. The increased rape cases of children this year is puzzling, especially when committed by their biological fathers, family members and relatives. Children both girls and boys have become prey to these unscrupulous members of society, whom I suspect are mentally unstable,” she said.
Minister Sioka also threw her weight behind recent protest steered by tough in Namibia marching against GBV and calling for punitive measures against perpetrators.
Namibia’s national theme for the 16 Days Campaign is “Namibia Unite to Collectively Prevent and Respond to GBV”.
“Namibians, let us be keepers of our brothers and sisters, in our homes, in our communities and everywhere we are. Let us turn the coin on the other side and strive for peace, can we really afford to finish each other this way? Fellow countrymen and women, let's form GBV watch movements in our communities. Let’s say No to GBV.
“One of the contributing factors of GBV is alcohol and substance abuse, as it immobilises people and makes people behave in unbecoming ways. Let us also work together to expand and intensify the campaign on alcohol misuse in Namibia! Let us stand up against alcohol abuse and let’s promote responsible drinking in order to save our nation,” Minister Sioka said.