Some victims of gender-based violence (GBV) have resorted to reporting cases to the traditional authorities instead of the police in order to get compensation.

This came to light during a meeting between the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication, and Social Welfare and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Social Development, and Family Affairs at Otjiwarongo.

Otjiwarongo has recorded 29 cases of rape and 98 domestic violence cases since last year.

The Regional Chief Community Liaison Officer at the Gender Equality Ministry, Julia Aktofel, however, says most cases go unreported to the police.

"We are facing the challenge of people believing in compensation. The reason why people are choosing to report GBV to traditional authorities, although they know that they are not supposed to do so, is because they think that by reporting a criminal case, they are not benefiting anything. A person gets locked up, and then what?"

Another challenge in Tsumkwe is child marriage.

"That's culture; when we ask how to deal with it, we are told 'No, it's our culture'. And then the teachers also find it difficult; sometimes they reprimand a girl, and the boy will come and ask, 'What are you telling my wife'?" said Josephine Mutenda, Education Director in the region.

This, she emphasised, is against the Child Care Protection Act, and anyone knowledgeable about such acts needs to report it, or else they are just as guilty of the offence.

According to Regional Governor James Uerikua, cases of sexual violations against minors are also problematic.

"We had a case last year whereby a husband raped the daughter of his wife, and this girl was 7 years old. So, the wife was scared of societal backlash in fear of what the husband would do in terms of retaliation, so what should you do as a person in terms of encouraging that if you have such information come forth, you are protected?"

Acting Vice Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Social Development, and Family Affairs, Paula Kooper, also pointed out a worrying trend at the Osire Refugee Camp.

"The Osire Refugee Camp will remain a problem for us as a country because there are many underlined issues that they are practising that some of our public is not aware of, and that can be a danger to us as a nation."

The committee will compile a report after visiting all the regions.



Eveline Paulus