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- Melba Chipepo
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I write this with some what fear in my heart but nothing can compare to the pain and the disgust that I feel towards the men in Namibia at the moment.
This year marks 4 years of my stay in Namibia and I must say never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would come across so many articles on killings and rape in my life.
I am appalled at the rate at which Namibian women are being raped and killed. It’s now something that’s left me confused and in so much fear that I had to end a relationship with a Namibian man I met a few weeks back because the thought of him one day turning his knife or gun at me scares me to death. I have always told myself and my friends that if I were to die it would be of old age and not by a man.
I have been questioning myself as to the causes of these attacks. Maybe these attacks are rooted in the men’s desire to control women and suppress their aspirations and voices. I came to this conclusion when I heard a story about a former UNAM student who was killed by her boyfriend because of his jealousy when he heard that she was awarded a scholarship by the university to study for her masters. Last week a similar story about a student from the Polytechnic was in the papers and everyone was shocked at how a young beautiful woman’s life was cut short by a man.
Reading about these violent acts is enough to make any person’s stomach churn but witnessing them is something else. Last week Sunday on my way home from town I came across a gruesome incident where a man was hitting his work mate’s head with a spade and to my surprise people were watching the act. I told the taxi driver to stop the car and started screaming for someone to call the police and still people just looked on. By then the attacker had stopped hitting his work mate after hearing my screams and he ran into the house they were building. I asked the onlookers why they just stood there and did nothing to which one woman said “that’s Namibians for you. They don’t do anything in such cases”. The injured man lay there bleeding profusely and still people just looked on. It took the City Police forty-five minutes to arrive at the scene after numerous calls by me and my friend to them. The ambulance arrived a couple of minutes later, even after the City Police. Indeed we do live in a world where the pizza delivery guys get to your home before the police or the ambulance does.
It is both simplistic and misleading to think that these acts belong to men who know how to love and to be loved, and that have grown up in cultures where love is taught and practised. In all countries in the world women endure violence but somehow, they still expect safety. I think it’s a different case in Namibia. Here the women expect assault rather than safety.
There is really nobody to blame for the driving forces behind these violent acts. Earlier these week after reading an article about a woman who was raped and had her baby killed in Outjo, I comforted myself with the thought that these men are possessed and just need a team of prayer warriors to pray for them. Everything would then go back to normal and they would realise that they are supposed to protect women and children in their communities and not hurt them.
It is up to the leaders of the nation to bring about a change. The state must take responsibility to protect women, punish their attackers and make the perpetrators shoulder the costs and consequences of their brutal acts. This must be done to all perpetrators regardless of their status in society, their motive or their relationship to the victim. In fact maybe the Namibian justice system should introduce the death penalty and maybe only then will these men get on the straight and narrow and be men and not beasts.
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