Break the Silence: Report abuse

The community of Golgotha in Katutura is still in shock following the horrific death of a young mother at the hands of her boyfriend.

Melanie Booysen (20) died a horrific death on November 10, 2012, after her 21-year-old live-in boyfriend slit her throat with a broken glass.
And to compound the matter, the incident happened during the birthday party of the couple’s 4-year-old daughter.
This is another case of domestic violence that ended in the tragic death of a young mother.
There are conflicting versions of the Golgotha incident, but witnesses claim that a brief argument broke out between the couple prior to the tragedy.
But one thing is clear that Melanie’s death highlights the problem of domestic violence and paints a very sad picture of how women in Namibia and across the globe are suffering in silence.
The fact that the culprit committed that heinous act in full public glare tells a story of a tragic end to months or even years of abuse.
Women in Namibia are murdered as a result of domestic abuse virtually on monthly basis.
This is something that can be avoided if only women in Namibia stop treating domestic violence as a domestic affair.
Some women are battered by their partners on daily basis. Like elsewhere in the world, in Namibia there are no comprehensive statistics of violence within the family, because they are seldom reported to the police.
The situation is exacerbated by cultural belief in our society, as many people treat domestic abuse, as a private matter that cannot be discussed with outsiders.
Worldwide, one out of every three women will be victims of abuse at some point in their lives.
Domestic violence by an intimate partner is the most common form of gender-based violence.
While international statistics differ from the local statistics, they all conclude that women are victims of violence in about 95 percent of the cases of domestic violence.
Furthermore, 40-70 percent of all female murder victims worldwide are killed by an intimate partner.
The real source of gender-based violence in Namibia lies at the heart of Namibian concepts of masculinity and femininity.
Women are primarily stereotyped in relation to their domestic, reproductive and household productive roles.
They are typically responsible for maintaining the household, caring for children and subsistence crop production.
In general, women have little or no decision-making powers, especially in relation to household matters like finances.
Domestic violence often remains completely hidden because it is shrouded in shame and secrecy, and because it is considered to be a private matter.
Latest statistics from the Ministry of Gender and Child Welfare have revealed that 21 percent of Namibian women who have experienced physical abuse and have never told anyone about their experiences.
And those who did speak out tended to talk to close relatives and friends who never take the matter further.
According to the Ministry of Gender and Child Welfare, only 10-20 percent of women have reported their cases to the police, most often when they are badly assaulted by their partners.
Available data further indicate that over 60 percent of the women who experienced physical violence from intimate partners had never sought help from any agency.
Women who do seek help tend to do so only after the violence has become severe or life-threatening, often only after they have been badly injured.
Some victims are reluctant to speak out about incidents of domestic violence because of the social stigma attached to abuse and the potential shame to the family.
Most people in married relationships prefer to suffer in silence because they are traditionally taught not to reveal problems within their marriages.
Some victims choose not to report incidents of domestic violence for fear of prompting greater anger and violence from the abuser.
For others, choosing not to report domestic violence is an economic decision where the arrest of an abusive breadwinner would leave the family with insufficient income.
Perhaps the most tragic reason for victims’ failure to speak out is a perception that an acceptance of domestic violence as being “normal”.
Many criminologists also believe that domestic violence is the most underreported crime.
In conclusion, I want to plead with other women to give each other helping hands.
Most of us know one or two women (mostly friends, neighbours and relatives), who are going through domestic abuse at the hands of their husbands or boyfriends.
Most of the victims of abuse tend to isolate themselves, but I suggest we start talking to our friends and relatives to encourage them to get support.
That way we can boost each other morally, because pinning our hopes in the Namibian Police or the City Police to root out domestic violence – is like a child’s dream.
We have witnessed on many occasions that how the law enforcement agencies, including emergency services, only come to clean up after tragedy has already struck.
 

November 2012
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