Nam First Lady counsels women on abuse

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Magreth Nunuhe

Windhoek – Namibia’s First Lady, Monica Geingos, says women must find what triggers their constant agitation and put a “terrible ending” to it in order to succeed in business and in their normal lives.

“Find that feeling of loneliness, anger, betrayal - what is triggering it? Introspect about that feeling,” she said, advising women to reach out to others, such as psychologists, financial advisors and close friends who can help them.

Geingos was speaking at the 12th Namibian Women Summit on 9 August held at the Safari Hotel in Windhoek, themed: “Every life has a silver lining” centred around coaching the participants on business and entrepreneurship.

She said it was better to bring a “terrible ending” to whatever stands in their way of progress or success instead of living in constant fear of “endless terror”.

“Women empowerment has to do with trust – go to people you trust,” she counselled.

In particular, she reached out to women in abusive relationships, who are told how to behave or what to wear, cautioning them to carefully choose their boyfriends or husbands, as that has a dire effect on their self-esteem.

Geingos said abuse comes in many forms and is not just through physical violence, citing that men sometimes use their financial muscle or sexual prowess to have a hold on their partners.

Some men, she said, even go to the extent of having sexual relations with the woman’s friends without hiding it in order to bring down her self-esteem.

Others constantly abuse their women verbally to drain the woman’s energy by making unfounded accusations, like accusing them of having “slept their way to the top”.

“If he can make you feel less of yourself, how will you focus on business?” she asked, stating that some relationships can make you change to who you are not.

Although Geingos was addressing the participants on entrepreneurship, when she chose to focus her talk on the cruel reality of gender-based violence (GBV) in Namibia and how irresponsible reactions, especially on social networks continue to torment families of the victims of GBV.

The First Lady spoke about the recent killing of 24-year-old Alina Kakehongo, who died after she was shot in the head by her ex-boyfriend who was a sergeant in the Namibian Police Special Reserve Force Division in Windhoek West.

“The reason I don’t have the strength to talk about entrepreneurship today is because of this highly intelligent young woman who just got her qualifications. She inspired her colleagues to work harder. She had an infectious personality,” Geingos recalled in a rueful voice.

She said once the newspapers finish reporting on the issue and we are no more interested in the issue, the story stays behind on social media and her colleagues to read the irresponsible comments left on social media platforms.

“Every single time someone gets murdered, you see postings on social media asking, what did she do? She must have cheated. She must have ‘chopped’ his money,” said Geingos.

The First Lady said it was okay to speculate, “but you forget about other people who loved them (victims)”.

“It’s the people who suffer every time. Every time a woman tries to go to the family of an abusive person, they say this is not how I know my son. This is not how I know my father,” she continued to say.

She also spoke of her own experience, saying that she expected or hoped that what people would talk about on social media regarding her husband (the President) and she would be limited to politics, but it was not the case.

“What have we become as a nation? We have become angry. We don’t care what we say. We don’t care who we criticise and where those bullets land. We do not care who we hurt,” added Geingos.

The First Lady said that every time we say a woman deserved to be killed, we empower men and encourage them to think that it is okay to abuse women.

Geingos was appointed in 2016 as the UNAIDS Special Advocate for Young Women and Adolescent Girls, to improve the health of adolescent girls and young women.

She is also expected to champion the newly launched Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS-Free agenda to put the world on a super fast-track to end HIV/AIDS among children, adolescents and young women by 2020.

 

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