Police gender-based violence unit at Katutura hospital crumbling

The police gender-based violence unit office at the Katutura Intermediate Hospital in Windhoek is in a violent state.


The specialised unit is mandated to prevent, detect, deal with and investigate crimes committed against all victims of abuse in the framework of the Rape Act no. 8/2000, and Domestic Violence Act no. 4/2003.

Its also expected to provide a conducive atmosphere for victims of domestic abuse and to make those in need of services feel free and comfortable to visit the unit and tell their stories.

This, however, is not what the unit has become and its dilapidated state flies in the face of what it is meant to do.

Some toilets at the unit that caters for cases from the Khomas region that affects women and children are not working.

In one of the toilets, a sink hangs by a pipe. It is not clear what happened, but by the look of it, somebody violently ripped it off the wall.



Although in the male toilet the sink is intact, somebody deemed it fit to store tyres and an assortment of stuff, including rape kits.

In what appears to be a storeroom, used and unused pregnancy test kits lie scattered. Here too, it seems a violent wind blew past in recent days.

One of the more affected sections of the building is the kitchen which is flooded by water. The cupboards are a clear testimony of how rough the conditions at the unit are.

This is the office where cases relating to women who have reported gender-based violence cases, and cases involving minors are kept.

 

Gender equality and child welfare minister Doreen Sioka told The Villager that because the building does not belong to her ministry, she is not aware of the state it is in.

“I have many infrastructures I am responsible for and if it was under my ministry I would have known about it. The ministry of gender is composed of many stakeholders like the police and the ministry of health. The infrastructure belong to the health ministry or the police,” she said.
 

Police spokesperson deputy commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi said: “I have called someone from the procurement office and also logistics office they are going to inspect and give me a response.”

Formerly known as the Women and Child Protection Unit, it was renamed the Gender-Based Violence Protection Unit in 2015 after complaints that it was discriminating against men.

There are 15 other such units throughout the country and are mostly located within the premises of local state hospitals.