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Companies shun the courts on sexual harassment cases- LAC

by Kelvin Chiringa

The Legal Assistance Centre’s Yolande Engelbrecht has revealed that the Namibian courts have never dealt with a single sexual harassment case since independence as companies continue to choose settling for out of court settlements to avoid dirtying their brands.

Engelbrecht who was taking National University of Science and Technology through the nitty-gritties of sexual abuse yesterday said cases of sexual harassment are prevalent but they continue to go unreported.

“We have no single case of sexual harassment that has been brought before the courts. Companies are not keen to be exposed, so they would rather pay huge amounts to have these matters resolved out of court,” she said.

The legal expert has however said that meanwhile there are only two cases from two undisclosed colleges that have been recorded although she did not say at what stage of investigations these are.

Without giving statistical data, Engelbrecht has also raised red-flags over cases of sexual acts at universities and colleges which are given the term, Sex for marks, or sexually transmitted marks, as other students disclosed.

While urging students to have such cases reported, she said it was however difficult for disabled people to protect themselves as perpetrators take advantage of their impairments.

On the other end, Engelbrecht expressed disappointment in the law which currently abolished man to man sexual acts (legally known as sodomy) without doing the same for female to female sexual acts.

“We have to make sure that the law becomes fair on this issue,” she said.

She also said rape in marriage was another phenomenon that was rising in Namibia especially in the Kavango, Kaprivi and Southern parts of the country.

Again, a majority of these cases go unreported, she said.

Engelbrecht also told students that the courts have sharpened their teeth on rape perpetrators and are jailing even those who take part in gang-rape incidents even if they do not commit the actual offense.

“If you rape a girl and you are three people involved, the courts will slap you with five-year jail terms multiplied by three, so that means 15 years each,” she said.

She also added, “If when you are having sex and you change your mind and your boyfriend physically forces you to continue this is rape. If you make someone really drunk so that your friend can have sex with them, you and your friend are guilty of rape.”