Legal systems must also protect male victims of GBV

WINDHOEK: Prosecutor-General (PG) Olivia Martha Imalwa has suggested that a fund be established to compensate victims of gender-based violence (GBV) who cannot fend for themselves while the perpetrators, who are breadwinners, are in jail.

She made this proposal on Thursday during discussions on the legal responses to GBV as part of the Second National Conference on GBV underway here.

“The law is there, but what is needed is for all of us, including prosecutors, to be educated on it because we do not know the law,” the PG stated.

She said specialised courses on GBV should also be introduced to train all key players in overcoming this phenomenon.

Imalwa was one of the panellists on the discussion, together with Advocate Bience Gawanas, Judge Marlene Tommasi, the Namibian Police Force (NamPol)’s Deputy Commissioner Charles Sibolile and Sacky Shangala, who is the chairperson of the Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC).

Some traditional councillors, also attending the three-day conference, said the easy acquisition of weapons to kill is a grave concern.

Senior Traditional Councillor from the Ondonga Traditional Authority, Sheefeni Kamanya said people can get firearms easily on a daily basis, and he thus urged law-enforcement agencies to be aware of such.

Other participants said when GBV is reported, the main focus is on prosecuting the offender, but upon being granted bail, the perpetrator returns to his/her partner a more aggressive person, a situation they want to see changed in one or other way to ensure the safety of the victim.

Another concern raised during the discussions was that the legal system benefits women more than men, such that law-enforcement agents chase away and even laugh at men who want to report GBV perpetrated against them.

“We need to educate the public to understand that legal instruments are there to benefit both men and women, and these instruments are there to benefit gender equality,” another contributor stressed.

On his part, Sibolile pointed out that society’s morals should be examined, while the authorities should also look into bail applications.

He said GBV is one of the top priorities for the police because too many people lose their lives to GBV.

Sibolile said NamPol is not only concentrating on investigating GBV cases, but are also proactively involved in setting-up guidelines to prevent GBV and tackle the protection of victims.

“We would like the public’s contributions to assist us in finding solutions,” he urged, while encouraging men to report cases of GBV perpetrated against them, rather than “suffering in silence”.