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What is Behind Namibia’s #Shutitalldown Movement?

Demanding justice, like-minded campaigners have swiftly mobilised through social media to protest against sexual gender-based violence (SGBV). Marching through the streets of Windhoek and other Namibian cities, they pledged to keep protesting until substantial political action was taken to address femicide, rape and sexual abuse. SGBV is a persistent problem in Namibia, in particular, intimate-partner violence against women and girls, sexual violence by non-partners and femicide. Reports earlier this year said police were receiving at least 200 cases of domestic violence monthly, while more than 1,600 cases of rape were reported during the 18 months ending in June 2020. Campaigners said that, like in other parts of the world, a months-long lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus pandemic had now made life even harder for domestic violence survivors forced to self-isolate with their abusers. In a petition addressed to the speaker of the National Assembly, the campaigners called on authorities to declare a state emergency over SGBV; consult with SGBV experts to tackle the problem; and prioritise the urgent review of sentencing laws for sex offenders and murderers, among others. They also demanded the resignation of Doreen Sioka, minister of gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare.