NAMIBIA: First Lady Calls for Stricter Laws to Deter Criminals

Friday, August 13, 2010
The Namibian
Southern Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Human Rights
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Namibia's First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba has called for the enactment of stricter laws to deter criminals from harming and abusing women and other vulnerable people.

Addressing the fourth Namibian Women Summit in Windhoek yesterday, the First Lady raised concern about the increasing occurrence of domestic and sexual violence in the country. “As women of this country we must put more robust efforts in place to deal with domestic and sexual violence. We have to fight hard to ensure that the perpetrators of violence against women and vulnerable people are brought to book,” she stressed. Pohamba paid tribute to the late Magdalena Stoffels, a 17-year-old girl who was murdered late last month in a riverbed while on her way from school.

It is suspected that she had been raped and had cut wounds under her chin. She was rushed to a hospital in the city, but her life could not be saved. Pohamba said the death of Magdalena Stoffels should not be an anecdote – it must necessitate a turning point in the fight against crime.

The First Lady commended Government for addressing and working to find solutions to the socio-economic and development challenges facing citizens. “Through the Ministry of Gender Equality and Social Welfare, Government is addressing the plight of women and vulnerable children and as a result of various Government policies in place, women today enjoy equal political, economic, cultural, social and fundamental rights,” she said.

Pohamba said the Namibian Constitution and other laws passed by the legislature prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender.
In addition, she said, many initiatives had been undertaken to promote gender equality in all spheres of life.
“These include ... the Maintenance Act, Combating of Domestic Violence and Rape Act,” she said. The First Lady said it was no secret that a society's progress in the democratic, economic, and social spheres depended largely on the progress made by the women and girls in that society. She stressed that no country could advance and develop if its women were left behind The Women Summit 2010 started on Wednesday with the theme ‘Women in a changing world'. The summit ends today.