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By: Kelvin Chiringa

Justice minister Yvonne Dausab has bashed back criticism that nothing much has been done to change the situation of sexual gender-based violence against women and girls, one year after the #ShutItAllDown movement.

Last week, the 8th of October 2021, marked exactly 12 months after the anti-femicide protest rocked Windhoek and reverberated into the regions as young people expressed anger and disgust at the discovery of the remains of 22-year-old Shannon Waserfall.

Wasserfall went missing last year, sparking debate around gender-based violence before emotions spilled into the streets with a call that there be a state of emergency over femicide.

In an exclusive interview, Dausab said progress has been made.

She however agreed that the society has not changed where it pertains the spike in femicide cases.

She said one of the things that changed immediately after the march was that a cabinet committee was established to deal specifically with sexual and gender-based violence.

The committee met and discussed issues pertaining to various reports and action plans being managed by the ministry of gender.

“One of the things that I will always give credit to the #ShutItDown movement for, is the kind of voice that they brought forth. We have heard much before but I think this is different. It was sustained over a particular period of time but it was also an opportunity for us to engage with members of the public, particularly the youth.

“Those petitions were delivered, not only to the executive in the form of members of the cabinet but also to the National Assembly which is the legislative voice of the Namibian people.

“And the legislature plays a particularly important role when it comes to the reform of the law while the executive makes the policy and provides the policy guidance. One of the things that picked up from the documentary that (Eagle FM) did was the constant voice that nothing has changed. I was uncomfortable with that for a number of reasons,” she said.

Secondly the minister said that the rape amendment bill was in the National Assembly, however this was hit down by the Covid pandemic.

Dausab said the march also saw the agreement in principle of the proposal for a national sex offenders register.

But this is still work in progress.

However, the discontent brewing from below is deriving from the fact that a year after the protest, cases of sexual and gender-based violence continue to soar, the minister said.

“When we talk about nothing was done, we are saying that in light with what is going on around statistics of gender-based violence and rape of our children. Some of the other things that continue to happen from the perspective of the ministry of justice is that we speak out on those issues,” she said.

The minister has said that the law in itself is not enough and does not prevent cases of rape from happening but merely punishes.

The real question, she said, is the role society must play in the whole fight against femicide.

Meanwhile, most of the leaders of the movement which rang right across the world last year about this time, have fizzled back into their shells and are rarely heard of this topic.






Kelvin Chiringa

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