Suicides, GBV on the rise

An organisation in Walvis Bay is advocating for the establishment of a safe house to provide temporary shelter and counselling for abuse victims.

02 June 2019 | Local News

Walvis Bay - Leandrea Louw

The parliamentary standing committee on gender equality, social development and family affairs visited the Erongo region recently.

The visit followed after a motion on the abnormal high incidences of suicide as well as gender-based violence was tabled in the National Assembly.

Two suicides were reported in Walvis Bay and Swakopmund respectively during the week the committee visited the coast.

Namibia is currently ranked 98th out of 177 countries regarding suicide rates worldwide. This roughly translates to about 7.7 people per 100 000 committing suicide in the country.

The visitors hosted a meeting at the Walvis Bay State Hospital with various stakeholders, including members of the police force, army, local church leaders and social workers.

A second meeting with the majority of the attendees, being life skills teachers from the various local schools, was hosted in Kuisebmond.

The teachers highlighted the reasons students commit suicide.

They said that learners are stressed and depressed nowadays. Parents sometimes place too much responsibility, pressure and expectations on them.

Bullying, poverty, and not having something to eat at school are also factors which play a role. Not being able to express themselves as a child, feeling they do not belong, and the movies, games and music children are exposed to also have an effect on them.

One teacher said the region does not have any youth centers to keep children busy.

“Parents are sometimes too busy working to pay attention to their children and the issues they are dealing with. Another issue is that not all learners can easily grasp concepts in chemistry and biology. The government should really look at introducing vocational subjects at school.”

Another attendee suggested that social services in Walvis Bay be decentralised.

“I once needed counselling after a very painful event in my life, and had to wait a week for an appointment. Suicide and depression do not ask for an appointment. When a woman is attacked in Kuisebmond at 02:00 in the morning, we can’t expect her to go to town to report it.”

Leon Louw, chairperson of the West Coast Ecumenical Movement, said the oraganisation has been advocating for the establishment of a rehabilitation centre and a safe house.

“The main idea is to provide shelter for abused women and children. It happens that a woman reports a case of abuse against her partner and then has nowhere else to go but back home to her abuser. This scenario usually ends up in the woman’s death.”

Louw said the organisation received two houses in the Meersig area of Walvis Bay from the ministry of works and transport. These houses have been standing empty for years and were vandalised.

“It was later revealed that the houses still belong to the South African government. We are currently in discussions with the ministry about other alternatives.”

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