The negative moralistic voices on the topic of abortion are ‘Christian hypocrisy’ when it comes to their silence in the fight against rape.
There are far more rapes and sexual assaults in Namibia than there are abortions (legal or back-alley). And yet, there is an overflow of letters to the editor, marches and articles claiming that the exercise of reproductive rights is murder. There is the silence of the tomb about the murder of the soul of a rape victim.
You cannot cherry-pick moral outrage (however you define it). You cannot pray to condemn abortion and then pretend that rape doesn’t exist. That is hypocrisy.
There is a 50-50 gender policy for most parties in Parliament. And yet, on the issue of rape, there are few advocates for women’s priorities. Women in Parliament are not indignant or shouting their outrage. They have not formed working groups or drafted stronger laws against rape. Instead, they sit tamely in their parliamentary chairs as if rape is not a destructive plague in Namibia. But, if the word ‘abortion’ is mentioned, they run around like ants in a thunderstorm to be the first to praise God, quote the Bible and condemn it.
Step one to battle the evil of rape is that victims must be believed. While those accused are innocent until proven guilty, those making the charges must enjoy the same benefit. A tate pressing charges and names the cattle thief is taken seriously. A meme who has the courage to report her rapist is chased or laughed out of the police station door. Our legal justice system is expert at blaming the victim and dismissing the validity of the accuser.
Step two is to have specialized training or a special unit in each police station. This unit must have skills to handle rape complaints and assist rape victims and the accused. We must train those at hospitals to collect evidence related to rape cases and document it appropriately. Magistrates and prosecutors also need sensitivity training to handle rape cases. Their actions must not further traumatize the victims.
Multiple reports say that policemen receiving rape complaints treat the nervous, violated victims as the causes of their own predicament. They scoff at the terrorized women. Often, they laugh at their complaints and sarcastically question them in public at the charge desk. Then, they do little to pursue the case. A trained squad of officers can make a difference in rape cases.
Police officers and society at large believe that if a woman was in drinking in a bar and she is raped, then she ‘deserved’ it. If a woman has insulted a man and he beats and rapes her, most people believe that she provoked the man and the result, is her fault. Police taking these complaints are less than serious.
There is an untold majority of men who have forced a reluctant or struggling woman or girl to have sex or endure inappropriate touching. All of this is possibly behind the misogynistic banter and ‘blame-the-victim’ commentary a rape victim faces at the police station and in her community. These are reasons why most women never report sexual abuse.
There are many studies done saying every woman has been the victim at some point of unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate touching and verbal taunts, sexual abuse or rape. Men need to have a quiet conversation with their grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunties, nieces and daughters. If the women they care for tell their truth, men will hear stories that will rock their worlds.
Women and girls are abused by uncles, teachers, cousins, neighbours, step-fathers or male blood relatives. The family and community know who these men are and yet, many times they sit and laugh and share beer with them at the local shebeen like nothing is wrong. The men who do these evil acts are not held accountable.
Women who are dependent on the men in their lives for financial support often turn a blind eye when their men sexually abuse or commit rape. They watch their nieces, daughters, neighbourhood girls and grandchildren endure abuse and say nothing. This tacit approval is the green light that destroys many lives. Where are the letters to the media, speeches from the pulpit and biblical outrage against this?
Members of the Namibian House must not cherry pick their morality. If their faith compels them to oppose abortion on the basis of their Biblical interpretations, then equally an immoral crime of rape, must enjoy the same level of ‘Christian-based’ outrage.