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The Media’s Focus on Violent Crimes 2009 – 2013, 2014

Natasja Beyleveld, CEO NaMedia.

Natasja Beyleveld, CEO NaMedia.

Women Solidarity of Namibia, an organisation which monitors violence committed against women and girls, stated this week that fifteen women were murdered by their partners in 2013, whilst ten cases of women and girls who have either been raped or killed have been reported so far in 2014. With the  recent increased media coverage on passion killing and violent crimes against women, NaMedia have analysed the data for 2009 to 2013 media content on related issues to discuss how these topics have come to demand front-page focus.

“Whilst women are usually the immediate victims of gender based violence, the consequences extends beyond the victim to the society as a whole” adds Beyleveld, MD NaMedia. She states that: “A number of reasons have been put forward in explaining high incidences of passion killings in our country, the most obvious being cases of unequal power dynamics in relationships between men and women, jealousy, greed, alcohol and drug abuse”. Similarly to other worrying social issues, such as baby dumping in Namibia, coverage given to organisations practically dealing with these cases have been little. “There has been multi-opinion and fact based articles circulated, but scarcely practical solutions or counter-initiatives” supports Beyleveld. Very recently, Namibian Gender Equality and Child Welfare Minister Rosalia Nghidinwa admitted that programmes meant to address the prevalent gender violence in the country have all failed, most noticeably failing in their mandates to create public awareness.
During 2014, spokespeople acting out against the violence most noticeably included President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Dr Sam Nujoma, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, the WAD, and the National Council Women’s Caucus.
Namibian police statistics over the last five years, indicate that on average 204 men and 48 women are murdered each year. Namibian newspapers have over the past five years varied their placement of these articles, relating to passion killings: violent crimes, murder, assault and grievous bodily harm, gender violence and rape, and domestic violence. However on average, 79% of these stories appeared on front pages, ensuring optimal impact on public awareness about these issues. Beyleveld is of the opinion that; “when benchmarking media coverage dedicated to business, politics, economics, and society in general to name a few, arguably figures on mentioned crimes before 2014 were relatively low, barely reaching the awareness threshold on a monthly basis”.
Most vocal protagonists on violent crimes in Namibia between 2009 to the end of 2013 were: President Hifikepunye Pohamba, SWAPO, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Petrina Haingura, the RDP, Pendukeni  Iivula-Ithana and Nahas Angula.
What is most worrying, is Police Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga’s remark that; “they’ get a lot of cases opened by women only for them to withdraw the cases and then days later you hear she has been killed.
 Beyleveld supports the Inspector General’s statement that; “as soon as the victim lays a case, the State should take over, so that the suspect is not released until they face the law”.
“The law on the other hand, will need to take drastic steps at introducing harsh punishment and rehabilitation courses to any offenders laying a hand on vulnerable human beings in society. Even before we get to that point, vulnerable women and children should be empowered to protect themselves from these unfortunate incidents” concluded Beyleveld.

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