Homes should be safe space for children-Geingos

• By Jo-Marie Ortner

THE First Lady of Namibia (FLON) and President of The Organisation of African First Ladies (OAFLOAD), Monica Geingos says homes are meant to be the ultimate safe space but, are the most dangerous spaces for women and children.

Geingos made the remark at the second Presidential Summit on Gender-based Violence and Femicide held on 1 November 2022, in Gallagher Estate, Midrand, South Africa.

The event is an initiative aimed at the prevention of GBV against women and children and to change the trajectory of GBV through constructive dialogues.

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The summit was held under the theme Accountability, Acceleration, Amplification and was focused on topics around making regional and international linkages with South Africa’s national agenda.

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The summit entailed politicians volunteering to be asked tough questions and holding themselves accountable for what has and has not been done, which FLOAN ‘believes is something peculiar.’

“The leadership displayed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to gather a cross-section of society to ensure a rights-based, multi-sectoral response against GBV is the bold and consistent political leadership we all benefit from,” she said.

She also added governments have a responsibility to solve problems and make a difference for the people that they serves and if good leadership was not exercised no change will be brought to live.

“If we are incompetent, uncaring, and lethargic, the system will be incompetent, insensitive and lethargic.

“Therefore, people who are not willing or able to do their jobs should be held accountable and make space for the willing and able. This way, the system becomes functional and reflects our collective talent and abilities”.

She further stated that it was an undeniable fact that every country had to improve its national response to the GBVF response and the State was responsible for resolving structural and macro-economic fault lines and keeping its citizenry safe.

“Domestic violence against women and children keeps escalating and during the COVID-19 pandemic the only crime that increased during the lockdowns was sexual violence against women and children.

“We know this to be true because when the world is angry or anxious, it is women who endure most of its ire. The world is distracted, conflicts are escalating, and economies are tanking.

Summit to place GBVF on the agenda and remind all of us that now is not the time to be distracted and now is the time to accelerate GBVF response,” Geingos said.

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Geingos further added that the video clip memorialising women and children who lost their lives to violence was “sad and infuriating”.

“It humanised those who have died as it put faces to the statistics. It also made me wonder whether we seem to only believe, empathise, or recognise the humanity of women once they have been killed.

She also alluded that when women tell their stories, report crimes and cry for help their voices are silenced, they are ridiculed and called “liars” for speaking their truth and said to want to ruin the reputation of the man.

“Suggesting that instead of a judgmental world that seems to celebrate violence, ‘we can honour the thousands of women who have lost their lives to femicide by providing the necessary support to women who continue to suffer trauma at the hands of abusive men, families, and societies, and re-traumatised by the criminal justice system,” Geingos said.

In her closing remarks Geingos respectfully disagreed with a viewpoint expressed at the Summit that ‘we should forget about apartheid’ and concentrate on battling GBVF as gender-based violence and femicide are not motivated by violent or dysfunctional beliefs that are formed in the heat of the moment.

“Before violent acts, violent mindsets are formed, and our culture has been woven with the figures we see today for a long time. Violence against women does not happen in a vacuum. Gender-based violence will occur at disproportionately high rates in societies with high levels of overall violence.

“We must recognise apartheid’s contribution to societal breakdown because we cannot address what we do not comprehend.

  The key to mending the rifts in our communities is to give mental health the priority and money it deserves,” she said.