Windhoek — A sense of entitlement to privileges has been identified as the catalyst among men who committed their first violent act against women. This is according to the Home Affairs and Immigration Minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana when she spoke on Tuesday in her contribution to the debate on Gender Based Violence in the National Assembly.
The motion was tabled last year, an unprecedented step, by the Speaker of the House, Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab, and had asked all parties not to oppose the motion, seeing that rape, sexual assaults and other type of crimes against women are on the increase in the country, committed mostly by intimate relatives of the victims. The motion is now being referred to as an “all party unopposed motion” in the legislature.
Iivula-Ithana said the sense of entitlement in such violent acts is because men take it as a privilege to “expect that when he arrives home from wherever, his food must be right there on the table and on time. He expects his wife or female relative to wake up earlier to get breakfast ready, and to get all her household chores done, even though she may also have a full-time job outside the home.”
Further, Iivula-Ithana noted that not only is the country losing its citizens but families are being deprived of their relatives while children are robbed of their mothers, sisters and aunts. “Most violent men are not mentally ill. They are exercising what they perceive as their natural right to exhibit ‘manhood’. The prevalence of domestic violence in a given society, therefore, is the result of tacit acceptance by that society. The way men view themselves, and the way they view women determines whether they use violence or coercion against women,” the minister remarked.
She said it is frightening to think that at any time “yours or my daughter, sister or mother can become a statistic, if this trend is not reversed immediately.” She explained that cultures that say women are raised to serve and should therefore stay home to produce and provide food for the family, have created a deep-rooted mentality of both superiority and inferiority complexes in males and females respectively.
“Males feel that they are naturally the owners of properties which, in their view includes women, while women feel powerless or nothingness as long as there is no male person in their lives,” according to her.
She applauded the Swapo Party for taking a bold decision to implement the 50/50 gender representation in decision-making bodies. She added that the decision aims to break the “patriarchal bondage” under which women in Namibia have suffered physically, emotionally, economically and culturally for decades.
Gender Equality and Child Welfare Minister Rosalia Nghidinwa said teenage pregnancies are also another kind of gender based violence.
The Namibia national teenage pregnancy rate stands at 15 percent of which Kavango Region tops the list with 34 percent followed by Kunene Region with 30.5 percent.
“This is a serious concern for parents, teachers and all leadership including politicians, religious or business to educate our children to refrain from early sexual relationships which is another form of gender based violence,” Nghidinwa said.
Further, she said elderly women and widows are also exposed to mistreatment and are sometimes called “names” such as witches and sometimes they are being killed or have their huts put on fire.
Both ministers urged that the motion be referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender and Family Affairs for more inputs and advice.