Man or Mouse, Where Is the Spouse? [opinion]

I would love to believe that last Thursday’s “shutdown”, which appears to have been observed nationwide, was a genuine sacrifice and commitment by Namibians towards a change in attitude and personal action by those who abuse the opposite sex.

I hope my gut feeling that most attended the event as an alternative to a day’s work is wrong but…

It was good to watch the whole event on television although the repetitive commentator’s statements on how the stadium was full to capacity while showing great empty gaps in the stadium sort of gives an indication of how, at political events, the reality is often massaged by submissive reporting bending the truth! Nevertheless, for whatever reason, it is quite obvious that the call by the political masters was well heeded and as such is greatly appreciated.

Yes, we have a massive problem in escalating gender based violence and we need to set an end to it. If the National Prayer Day promotes an acceptance that current policies and actions are not working and that the nation, as a whole, must put its thinking caps on, and keep them on until solutions emerge, the day was a success for all apart from the shebeen owners, who, to give them credit, kept closed!

I even enjoyed a variety of the religious rantings, some of which even deviated from their usual propaganda loins and added value to the debate! What did disappoint, was our political leadership, who with their two-and-a half-minute people’s introduction appeared to add little new thinking to the issue at hand. This was amplified by the thankfully brief main speech by our president who could only repeat the nine points from the Cabinet meeting of 21 February.

These points actually, when read between the lines, highlight the real problem, not only in the GBV sphere but also in the wider socio-economic realities that have slowly been engulfing the broader Namibian society. Apart from the need for yet another “enquiry” by, no doubt same old academics, peripheral party members and the tame NGOs, his “9 points” were all penalistic, at least in part, and all part of the current failing practice.

Here lies the problem that affects all government activities in that if policies, usually long established, are not working we either pass more restrictive laws or (interpretations) or throw more money at the problem. Rarely do we change our direction, methods or thinking.

GBV is a perfect example of men, some of course are complete “shits”, are demonised as a whole and by being so charged, are avoiding the marital route of husband, wife and children. They resort to satisfying their “needs” through casual sexual interaction rather than building long term relationships, a practice that is growing as the “gender” war continues to heat up.

Kamwanyah, in his Friday article nicely captured much of the problem but I think still avoided the main point in that a man’s powers only comes to the fore when added to the powers and strengths, that are often very different but equally (if not more) valuable in a relationship. That prime difference is that women produce the children of the man. It is this, the family unit, through complementarity of strengths, that enables the difficulties and challenges of life to be overcome together and makes a satisfying and successful life.

Pillay (UN) in her article, also published last Friday takes a different approach of the dangers of gender stereotypes, especially before the law pointing out some interesting examples. But I suggest that her approach to tackle the GBV problems (and similar), while sounding good academically, especially as she is a renowned lawyer is not the path to solving the collapse of the family system due to cost, time and the sheer impracticality of implementation.

Solutions have to be found from within the socio-economic realities of our various forms of society although the need for after-the-event penalistic action can never be discounted entirely. Somehow we have to return to a society where relationships, especially where kids are produced, require that both parents are legally committed to supporting and taking responsibility for their offspring.

Enforcing this has to come from societal pressure rather than though our overloaded and largely ineffective court system. The pressures of enforcement should fall within local communities, whether tribally, location or community groupings where action can be immediate as in the days of earlier societies. Enforced community labour, bans on drinking, “gating” people after hours would seem like some form of option and would be community enforced rather than bogging down our legal system with “sinners”?

As our President said, “we are a sick Nation” and therefore some stiff, rather unpleasant medicine is needed but, I suggest that this medicine must come directly from the local societies who are affected by this sickness.

The last thing needed is yet another 5-year investigation. I would recommend reading the UN report of 1999 (or 2000?) regarding our deteriorating social condition, especially in youth with their “cell, car and clothes” complexes and parents (usually but not always single) who view their own pleasures before those of their kids.

The most powerful weapon in our possession is the combination of the various talents of man and woman acting together. Maybe it is the “gender equality” mania that is at the root of our sick society by marginalising men and glorifying women rather than realising that the combination of the multiple talents of the two together can make a successful outcome more likely.

Our actions should be pro-active and preventative, not penalistic and reactive, to succeed. “Make love, not war”? Maybe this will lead to an improving economic Namibia as we pull together, not apart?

Source : The Namibian