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‘Hold on to traditional values, culture to end GBV’

Written by on April 11, 2024

Amid a wave of violence that has seen four women allegedly killed in crimes of passion, traditional leaders say young people should stay in touch with their traditional beliefs, norms and culture, which are hinged on a solid foundation of love, respect and care for each other.

They say this formula creates harmony in society, primarily in relationships and curbs gender-based violence (GBV).
Psychologists believe GBV is fuelled by “narcissistic and patriarchal beliefs”, while the government says Namibians should shun violent and unstable relationships.

Speaking to Desert Radio on Wednesday, Ondonga Traditional Authority spokesperson Frans Enkali said violence has no place in society and called for young couples to get back to their roots.

“It is unfortunate that in the modern context, tradition is viewed as primitive but we never had these problems when tradition is followed. Tradition and cultural norms encourage societies to live in harmony and shun violence.
Psychologist Sean Whittaker said patriarchy has created a sense that men have dominance over women.

“Sometimes our society embraces the idea of men being the head of the house. Does this mean then the men can go out and do whatever they do and not communicate to their spouses? This creates tension in the household and fights are bound to happen. In most cases, men tend to be narcissistic and fail to deal with these issues,” Whittaker said.

Annemarie Plaatjies


Blouwes Traditional Authority councillor Annemarie Plaatjies said there is a need for improved access to marital counselling.

Plaatjies further said Namibian society views marriage as a sacred union, which often forces women to stay in abusive unions.

“Divorce is a very difficult matter for many women, especially women who were raised in households led by a mother and father who were married for more than 30 years. Because within their parents’ marriage, abuse took place as well, but the woman had to excuse the husband’s behaviour or forgive him under the guise of respecting the husband or the fear of God to continue honouring the marriage covenant.

“But we see the dangers. That when these girls go back, the arguments do not stop because there is anger, jealousy, suspicion and no trust. Sooner or later, somebody will lose their life. Therefore, in today’s life, where GBV is so rife, one cannot continue teaching the norms of patriarchal societies.”

While domestic violence at Blouwes is not rife, there have been a few cases where the police had to be called in, she said.

“After we came there with the police, the woman was making excuses for the husband. The next day, these people continued being a married couple and living their lives as if there was no domestic violence and we were accused of meddling in their business and taking their personal issues into the streets.”

Chief Ndilimani Iipumbu


Masubia Traditional Authority councillor Fabian Silishebo said the government should equip traditional authorities with funding to create continuous and intensive awareness campaigns in their areas of jurisdiction.

“The government has all the measures in place for the abuser or his victim to seek help. However, much of the awareness efforts or measures in place do not reach the most vulnerable, or even if they do, they do not take them very seriously.

“Therefore, by empowering the respective traditional authorities, they will be in a better position to create awareness among the locals, and the leader’s training will also make him more confident in handling matters of a sensitive nature,” he said.


Silishebo further advised perpetrators not to allow jealousy, alcohol and drug abuse to cause them to abuse or kill their partners.

“Men should learn that it’s not the end of the world if the woman does not want to be with you anymore. There is more to life beyond the current relationship. Equally, women who find themselves in such relationships should report on time in order to avoid incidents whereby they get killed by their partners.

“GBV is harming our society very much, because whatever happens between these couples affects their children and family members as well. Children lose both their parents to death, or one ends up in prison. Family and friends should intervene on time if they happen to see that the person is being abused. We can no longer afford to say that it’s between the couple, as we are losing productive members of society.”

Uukwaluudhi Traditional Authority spokesperson Johannes Ndundu says GBV affects everyone in society and is a threat to the mental, physical and reproductive health of women, increases the incidence of homicide, contributes to the HIV-AIDS crisis and places families at risk.

“Poverty is the main leading cause of GBV in society, because as they say, a hungry man is a dangerous man. People are hungry and lavishing in dire poverty, causing them to commit unlawful acts. Many women in the rural areas are now migrating to urban centres in search of greener pastures, however, they end up cohabiting with men for survival or dating married men for financial and material gain.
“Sometimes, such women are in multiple relationships and if their partners find out, it leads to violence. I am not saying women are the leading causes, but my point is to say that in most cases, ladies do these things because of poverty and they think that the only end of their suffering is if they date multiple men or sleep with men for financial gain.”

Ovaherero Traditional Authority traditional leader Uapimbi Ngareja at Tsumkwe said some men feel entitled after paying bride price (lobola) and feel they own the woman.

Such cases were rarely reported in the past, because parents arranged marriages for their children, contrary to the current state, where couples tend to meet anywhere without knowing each other’s background and getting into relationships without parental involvement.

Money is also another factor that contributes to these cases, as most men are spending a lot of money on women nowadays, which triggers resentment after break-ups, he said.

Uukwambi Traditional Authority chief Ndilimani Iipumbu described violence against women and children as staggeringly high.


Gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare minister Doreen Sioka has called on the community to report [GBV] cases they witness.

“Let’s refrain from killing each other,” Sioka stressed. As a ministry, we condemn couple killings and GBV in general. There is a need to educate our people on the dangers and consequences of GBV. Some of the incidents are likely to be triggered by infidelity.”

Sioka further called on regional council and constituency offices to address the subject by educating the community not to turn a blind eye.

“It requires all our efforts or else we will not get out of this situation. Everyone’s engagement as a collective is paramount and not only as a ministry,” Sioka said.


Social activist Ngamane Karuaihe-Upi said those being abused may see warning signs and it can be hard to leave an abusive relationship when they are overpowered or dependent on the abusive partner. Another reason can be the fear of starting over again with a new partner, with such notions as ‘the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know’, he said.

Bishop Lukas Katenda said recent relationship murder cases are matters of deep regret and it is very disappointing that some people think and act as if murder is the only solution to relational struggles.

Couples must seek help quickly when they notice behavioural changes from their partners, Katenda said.

The post ‘Hold on to traditional values, culture to end GBV’ appeared first on The Namibian.

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