SCORES of young people today stood in solidarity against the prevailing trend of femicide and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) perpetrated against the women and children of Namibia.
The peaceful demonstration in Windhoek was planned a day after the discovery of human remains in a shallow grave in the dunes at Walvis Bay believed to be that of Shannon Wasserfal, a 22-year-old woman, who went missing early in April this year.
Wasserfal, a mother to a two-year-old toddler, was reported missing in Walvis Bay four days after she was last seen.
Her mysterious disappearance prompted the nation to unite in searching for her.
The Namibian Police reported that remains were found after an anonymous tip-off about the exact location where she was buried.
The protestors in Windhoek produced a petition in which they call on President Hage Geingob to declare a State of Emergency in respect of SGBV.
The petition was read by one of the organisers of the peaceful demonstration, Bertha Tobias, before t was handed over to a representative of State House.
The group also called on the President to extensively consult with gender-based violence experts on the best, immediate and radical courses of action to curb violence against women and children.
In the petition the group also called on the Ministry of Justice include to prioritise the creation of a sexual offenders register and making such documents available to critical and interested bodies, particularly those working with women and children.
The group also called for the prioritisation of the establishment of a sexual offences court in order to expertly, effectively and, most importantly, sensitively deal with SGBV cases; the prioritisation of the urgent review of sentencing laws for sex offenders and murderers, particularly pertaining to bail, suspension of sentences and severity of sentences in order to emphasise Namibia’s intolerance of SGBV; and to prioritise the immediate acceleration of all current murder and sexual offence cases on trial or under investigation.
The demonstrators also demanded the prioritisation and immediate review of prisoners currently serving sentences in the correctional services system to separate known repeat-offenders, sex offenders and murderers from other criminals in order to improve the rehabilitation rate of those convicted for minor offences; as well as the prioritisation and immediate revocation of bail for current trial awaiting persons who are accused of sex offences or murder.
The group also called on the Namibian Police to immediately institute around the clock armed patrols in all neighbourhoods. The protestors also called on the police not to allow the withdrawal of cases lodged in respect of the Rape Act and the Gender-Based Violence Act.
The Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture was called on to implement training to all teachers in respect to SGBV, as well as to review all teachers who have had relationships with learners or have been charged with a sexual crimes. The protestors demanded that such teachers and lecturers at tertiary institutions be released from further employment by the relevant ministry immediately.