Social Worker Addresses Cultural Practices Contributing to GBV in Opuwo

Opuwo – Ngaitjitue Hengari, a social worker at the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, highlighted the pervasive issue of gender-based violence (GBV) in Opuwo, where cultural practices often contribute to violence against women and children.

According to Namibia Press Agency (NAMPA), During a capacity-building training for radio engagement on GBV, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and mental health, Hengari emphasized that cultural and customary practices significantly influence gender interactions, often reinforcing patriarchy. The training, conducted by the Ministry of Gender Equality along with UNESCO, the Japanese Government, UNFPA, and the Ministry of Health and Social Services, focused on the theme ‘Leaving No One Behind’.

Hengari pointed out the ministry’s efforts to combat GBV, including the creation of a comprehensive GBV toolbox, training, funding, and psychological support for survivors. “We educate communities about GBV through meetings and school talks, provide psychological support to survivors, and economically empower women to be self-sufficient,” she stated. In Opuwo, 103 GBV cases were registered last year, including 42 rape incidents, while 62 cases have been reported in 2023, with 19 involving rape.

Katjina Tjikunda Kulunga, Chairperson of Kunene Community Radio, noted that not all traditional practices are detrimental to women and children, and that GBV should not be solely attributed to cultural practices. He emphasized that Himba and Zemba cultures do not condone violence and harmful traditions should be abandoned.

The training, which began in the Khomas Region with Focus FM and concluded in Opuwo, aimed to educate stakeholders and media practitioners on effectively addressing GBV and reproductive health issues in their communities.