Rising against violence

A local women’s group is calling for the domestic violence act and the rape act to be reviewed.

25 February 2019 | Local News

Irene //Garoës; OBR country coordinator; "Rape, sexual harassment and institutional violence that controls the bodily autonomy of girls and women should end.”

Leandrea Louw - Valentine’s Day saw women and youth from Usakos talk about violence against women and children under the theme “Usakos Rising”.

One Billion Rising (OBR) Namibia and the Young Feminists Movement (Y-Fem) of Namibia hosted the event.

The Solidarity Walk scheduled to take place on 8 March in the town was also launched. The day is also celebrated as International Women’s Day.

According to Irene //Garoës , OBR country coordinator, the women and youth of Usakos are tired of economic injustices and poverty in their town. They realised this is linked with violence against women and children, unemployment, lack of investment in the town and access to information.

“During the community dialogue the community of Usakos testified of extreme violence against women and children being perpetrated and the need for it all to end. We walked through the streets of Hakaseb and Usakos town, distributed female and male condoms, and informed the community about the Solidarity Walk and the importance of why we should all be united if we want to bring about positive change in our town and country.”

The solidarity walk will take place from Usakos town to Hakaseb, as well as an official event where a call for action to review the domestic violent act, the rape act and the advancement of reproductive justice, sexual rights and health will be handed over for the attention of the president.

Activists also want a conversation started on national level on issues of access to sexual health information to young women, access to free legal and safe abortions, discrimination and treatment of marginalised groups such as LGBT people, differently-abled people, people living with HIV, indigenous people, women who live under customary law and rural women and their economic empowerment.

//Garoës said all forms of violence against women are perpetuated by poverty, economic injustice, hate and discrimination.

“Rape, sexual harassment and institutional violence that controls the bodily autonomy of girls and women and prevent them from freely expressing themselves should end. We therefore also call for the proper implementation and review of the Domestic Violence Act and the Rape Act. The movement proposes that the aforementioned acts should look at stalking and harassment (online violence included), sexual violence and bail given to accused rapists. A conversation on the human rights of rape survivors, treatment and care of survivors and policy reforms to protect women should also be initiated.”

An artistic uprising in-between and after the program will consist of poetry performances, music and dance items. Female Ma/giasa /Damara punch artists such as Kalina, Cleo, Imelda and Oc Bulan will perform. There will also be a dance choreography with the song Nesidando Namises did for the Rising last year in Swakopmund.

“We are collaborating with artists and using arts as a way to rise against violence. We are calling on the people of Usakos, surrounding farms and towns in Erongo region and Namibia at large to come stand with us and take action!”

OBR is the biggest mass action to end violence against women and was launched on Valentine’s Day 2012. The global campaign began as a call to action, based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet could be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls.

People across the world have been coming together from 14 February 2019 to express their outrage, strike, dance, rise in defiance against the injustices women suffer and demand an end to violence against women. This protest action will conclude on 8 March 2019.

Namibian activists decided to take up the campaign to be coordinated through Y-Fem Namibia Trust which works in the Erongo region with young women for a second consecutive year. Young-Fem activists across the country are planning risings in other towns such as Windhoek, Katutura, Otjiwarongo, Gobabis, Keetmanshoop, Swakopmund as well as Ongha in the North.

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