30 Mar 2015 20:00pm
WINDHOEK, 30 MAR (NAMPA) Â– The newly appointed Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare urged all parties to address gender-based violence, saying it is Â‘finishingÂ’ voters ahead of Regional and Local Authority elections this year.
Â“We are losing voters because of gender-based violence (GBV). This issue needs collective ideas and dedication in order to reduce it in this country,Â” said Doreen Sioka while addressing her ministry's management team here on Monday.
The elections are slated for November this year.
She dedicated herself to focus on the implementation of the National GBV Plan of Action as well as the recommendations of the second GBV conference through the Multi-sectoral Coordination Mechanism for the implementation of the National Gender Policy which Cabinet approved last year.
Sioka said her ministry has moved to ensure that some components of the coordination mechanism are established and operational.
The minister noted that GBV has reached an alarming proportion, in that even people who are entrusted with the protection of people's lives are now perpetrators of these heinous crimes. She was referring to three police officers who shot their partners during the course of this month. All three officers shot themselves dead afterwards. One woman survived her shooting.
Sioka intends to launch a 365 Days of Activism against GBV campaign this year, together with a GBV communication drive.
Â“We need behavioural change and a shift in mindset of both men and women, as it is disheartening to learn that 28 per cent of Namibian women still believe that it is fine to be beaten by their spouses,Â” she said.
Sioka encouraged traditional leaders, local authority councillors, faith-based organisations that are constantly in touch with the people on the ground to make GBV a prominent agenda point on all their deliberations with communities they serve.
She said her ministry will work with the relevant authorities to ensure the amendment of pieces of legislation dealing with bail and parole to allow for stiffer punishment for perpetrators of GBV.
Â“Another element I would like to examine is the issue of inadequate places of safety for women and children survivors of GBV. There is a need for such measures to be put in place to ensure protection of GBV survivors,Â” Sioka said.
She stressed that the recommendation of increasing the number of social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists that was made at the GBV conference last year amongst others, need to be seriously taken forward.
The meeting was attended by about 15 members of the ministryÂ’s management team and deputy minister Lucia Witbooi.