Gender ministry worried about child rape

Tuyeimo Haidula
The gender ministry has acknowledged its concern about the high rate of rape of minors in Namibia and the far-reaching consequences for survivors.In response to questions by Namibian Sun about the frequent reports of rape, especially of minors, in the country, the ministry, through its acting executive director, Martha Mbombo, expressed its concern.

Mbombo said it is alarming that in some cases, parents are the perpetrators – the very people tasked with being the first line of defence for their children. She said government will continue to take drastic measures to assist and foster mechanisms that could possibly deter would-be rapists from committing acts of violence, but she did not detail what those measures consist of.

Mbombo urged communities to step up and work with government and other stakeholders to prevent rape and gender-based violence and to report cases to relevant authorities.

A pandemic of violence

The problem has become so severe that the police have declared it a pandemic that requires urgent intervention. Currently, an average of five minors are raped every month in the Omusati Region. This has prompted the police in the region to issue a stern warning to parents not to leave their children unattended. Despite the warning, new cases of child rape continue to be reported to the police, often perpetrated by family members, including parents.

Sixteen minors were reportedly raped in Ohangwena Region since the start of the year. The most recent and shocking case involved two girls, both two years old, who were allegedly raped by an 18-year-old on Valentine’s Day. Last month in Oshikoto Region, a 50-year-old man was arrested at Iinongo in the Oniipa area for sexually assaulting his five-year-old daughter. Omusati police are searching for a 38-year-old suspect who is wanted for allegedly raping a six-year-old minor at Oitende village in the Outapi constituency last Tuesday.

Police regional commander, commissioner Ismael Basson, said the suspect, a boyfriend of the girl’s grandmother, lived in the same house as the girl and had sexually violated the young girl on several occasions.

Raising awareness

Mbombo said on their part, the ministry, in collaboration with stakeholders, continues to raise awareness and educate communities and children about the dangers of rape and violence and where to go for help across the country. “There are various campaigns on the issues that are being conducted through radio, television, and other social media, as well as meetings at the community and school levels. In each of the 14 regions, the ministry has gender community liaison officers and social workers who work with children to raise awareness about laws such as the Combating of Rape Act, Combating of Domestic Violence Act, Maintenance Act, and others,” she said.

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