As more women continue to fall victim to violence and abuse across the African continent, we have seen a wide range of movements that have advocated for change. On the 6th of October, young people across Namibia rose to demand change and to hold the relevant authorities accountable for the neglect of an issue stealing the joy of women and girls across Namibia.
Our Head of Content, Woopi Takarasima spoke to Miss Thrive Mahua, a 2nd-year Psychology and German studies student, feminist, writer and women’s rights activist in Namibia who plays an important role in driving for reforms and the revolutionization of systems and procedures in Namibia to ensure the safety of girls and women across the country.
In her words, Miss Mahua says,
Miss Mahua narrates the current situation in Namibia.
Every day brings new headlines of different forms of abuses and violence against women and girls. A little girl molested at home by a close relative, the death of women in the hands of their supposed lovers, the abductions and disappearances of women in their communities.
Most disturbingly, the slow responses from the authorities that are responsible and entrusted with enforcing the law and ensuring justice are delivered to the Namibian citizens they are meant to serve.
There have been multiple outcries in Namibia for change, and many organizations work tirelessly to ensure that change happens. One of the cases that triggered the recent outcry of Namibian youths was the discovery of the body of Shannon Wasserfall, a young woman who went missing six months ago.
The perpetrators have still not been held accountable. This story is not exclusive to Shannon only; it is the story of many Namibian women. Those meant to enforce the law are just not doing their job. Miss Mahua highlights the fact that Namibia has decent laws and policies in place; however, the systems in place are not being put to use.
On the 6th of October, Namibian youths decided that it was enough. They grew weary of saying and demanding the same things over and over again. They showed up across the country in their numbers. They dressed up, danced, sung and made sure they were heard.
It is this powerful movement that we all saw across different social media platforms. The essence of their message is clear; they want women in Namibia to be able to live without being in a constant state of fear.
The youth delivered a petition with a list of demands. The first one is to declare a National State of Emergency because that is, in fact, the gravity of the situation in Namibia.
As long as women and girls do not feel safe leaving their homes or schools, as long as women and girls can not go out and be sure they will return alive, it remains an emergency.
The petition also calls for the resignation of the Gender and Child Welfare Minister, who is not dedicated to dealing with the matter at hand with the seriousness it deserves. If the individuals placed in power do not carry out the duties they are designated to, then there should be a call to put in power people better equipped to deal with the situations at hand.
After a series of protests, twenty-five young people were unjustifiably arrested. After a court appearance, they were rightfully released. The government released a statement through the office of the Prime Minister in response to the petition.
They have committed to strengthening the current legal procedures in place to dealing with GBV, and to look into the establishment of a Sexual Offenders Register and its implementation within the bounds of the law.
The government has committed to setting up Sexual offences and Gender-Based Violence Courts designed specifically to deal with and respond to these issues. The government has also promised to ensure the proper training of forensic investigators and allocating more financial resources to fighting GBV and holding perpetrators accountable. The full statement can be found online.
Miss Mahua recognizes the efforts made by the government but however still asserts that it is not enough to just talk, we must see change happen. She calls for the reconstruction of cultures that encourage and continue to drive forward the behaviours that are harmful to women in Namibia. She emphasizes that change should not only focus on future generations as the centre, but today’s generation.
Young people need their safety now, not tomorrow and those that have been entrusted with the mandate to ensure that it is possible should take their responsibilities with all seriousness. If they are unable to do that, then the power they are given should be taken back and placed in the hands of those who can. The power is the people’s at the end of the day, especially young people.
To help elevate the voices of the young people in Namibia, Miss Mahua encourages; continuously raising awareness, sharing resources online, gathering funds and influencing decision-makers if you have that power.
Miss Mahua applauds all people across the globe that have stood with young Namibians and continue to advocate for change. To young people across Africa, she says,
Keep fighting the good fight, our revolution is here, and we will not take no for an answer.
– Thrive Vinomaandero Mahua | a Psychology and German studies student, feminist, writer and women’s rights activist in Namibia
Curated by Woopi Takarasima | Head of Content, Campeedia.
Photo credits: TRTWorld