Category Archives: Sister’s Blog

Murderers, all of us

Are we becoming desensitised to brutality? Moreover to murder?
A story still lingers in my head.
Quite recently, a son murdered his mother, because she plead with him not to hit his girlfriend.
Now his girlfriend ran and hid after he had assaulted her, but eventually went home because the baby was crying most night.
According the reports he didn’t continue hitting her, in fact he put ointment on her wounds.
The dual side of an abuser, a monster and very caring too.
He locked the doors and they stayed in there all night.
In the morning his mother comes to plead with him about beating up his girlfriend who is also the mother of his 11 month old baby.
He was said to have stormed out and started hacking her with a panga (machete).
His girlfriend, when he opened the door ran away.
Now I want to redirect the story to his girlfriend.
Upon the slightest opportunity, she ran for her life.
So for an entire night, she must have been violently terrified to even be in the same room as this man.
Could she see the murder weapon in her sight? Was she careful to not say the wrong thing or move the wrong way or she would get chopped?
Think of the horror she endured with this man, not only on this fateful night, but every night when he was angry at her for some perceived wrong.
Imagine how many women are kept hostage every night by their abusers.
How many stories have we heard of women murdered?
What is our reaction now? Anger? Pity?
Here is the thing though, we have become desensitised.
Murder in Namibia, is just part of the day.
Doesn’t shock us anymore.

We are not angry enough to make a difference.
We are more curious in the details of the murder, than we are in justice for the murdered.

Which brings me to the point of accusation.
We, all of us have become accessories in the killing of these women.
We are on-looking murderers.
Because none of us cry no more.
It’s like we are silently condoning crime.
Silence, condones.
I don’t care what you say in whispers or the prayers you send upwards for victims.
But your silence, our silence has made us passive murderers, we are contributing to the killing of these women.
So for every woman that dies… I declare that her blood just as much lies in your hands as it does in the murderers hands.
Cause we don’t do enough.
We don’t cry enough.
We aren’t angry enough.
We don’t strike enough.
We don’t boycott enough.
We don’t demand for justice enough.
We don’t challenge the status quo enough.
We don’t provide enough counselling for angry men.
We don’t provide enough safe havens for abused women.
We haven’t done enough to safe the next victim.
We wait like hungry vultures for the next corpse.

We just don’t walk in their shoes enough to understand, to understand their fears.
Is this who we’ve become?
Murderers, all of us.

By Elsarien Katiti

Trustco Ad: The Voices

The Trustco Advert saga brought so many voices out to speak.
Not all were positive.
Here is a collection of some of the voices.

Martha Mukaiwa: In case you’re on the sidelines wondering what’s wrong with it: Women are “broads” . A sexist, objectifying and derogatory term for a woman. We look better in board photos. Calling attention to our appearance and our appeal in the context of the male gaze in the age of #MeToo and the global move towards ending sexual harassment in the workplace and beyond. We should be able to stand our ground against the best men. Patronising, connoting some level of accepted and thriving gender weighted intimidation inherent in the workplace. And then “#Yes of course of men are also welcome to apply” thus rendering all of the above just the usual sexist, misogynistic and careless language preceding disgraceful behaviour not even in the context of some misguided move towards equality. As for the use of Annie Leibovitz’s incredible image of Caitlyn Jenner. Transphobic at worst and reductive at the same. Jenner’s former and probably continued struggle with her gender identity minimised to “doing anything” rather than a difficult fight for truth, her life and legitimacy as a human being and a woman with the right to choose and pursue her happiness. Just disgusting, tone deaf, oblivious and disgraceful. Get serious, Trustco Group Holdings. Whoever dreamt this up is clearly not living on this planet or they are severely deaf to the efforts being made against the violence of sexism, transphobia or simply walking out your door as a woman. Open your eyes, apologise, retract, look around and do much (and I mean MUCH) better.

Sister Namibia: It seems our voice has been silent in the matter of the Trustco advert.
But it has not been, we have been so shocked we didn’t know what to say.
So here goes.
The term “Broad”:
• A word for a woman. Less respectable than “lady” but much more respectable than “bitch”.
• A term originated in the 1930’s meaning woman; derived from the fact that the most defining characteristic of all females are their hips, which are proportionately wider than hips of their male counterparts.
• Usually offensive, a term used for to refer to a woman. A promiscuous woman.
• Often men who felt threatened by strong-willed and successful women would call them broads in a derogatory sense.
The board is a strategic head of an organization, it develops and guides policy. And if on that level there is such disdain and disrespect for women, it speaks of a rotten institutional culture.
Example trickles down from leadership to the workforce, and it is an absolute shame to see such behaviour tolerated in an institute such as Trustco.
This explicitly reveals sexualisation of women, harassment and a complete disregard for their intellect and leadership capabilities.
It is greatly upsetting that we still have to keep saying that women are more than their figures and their breasts, that they are capable of being leaders. It is also upsetting that we have very few women considered for strategic leadership and managerial positions.
Until we have a balanced representation in leadership, this are battles we still have to fight.
If there were enough women on that board, this behaviour would never have been tolerated in the first place.
So we hope Trustco gives more than an apology (which was not an apology at all mind you), but increases women representation on the board.
Sister Namibia is in support of all the voices who stood up against this ad.
We strongly reiterate your cries.
Let us as a sisterhood fight against and uproot every misogynistic ideology and practice against women.
#HellNoTrustco

Blu H Mathews: That is because you wish to look at it in that light. The transgender in the picture lived for years in self imprisonment due to fear of what society and family members may say. Trustco using her image could mean that they are calling out all women who think less of themselves, women who feel because they do not have an education will never be in a good position at work. Women that deem themselves as nobodies due to their circumstances. You focusing on the negative says a lot about you. Hence you aren’t really able to assist people that come to your offices for assistance most especially women. For an establishment such as yourselves to stoop so low to bully a company just because they decided to go a little extra on their creativity says a lot about you and the entire organization. Learn to see a little positive for goodness’ sake. I remain supportive of Trustco
Uaaruka Happyforever Kandjii: Blu H Mathews, finally someone that saw the ad in the way I saw it…. I didn’t see anything wrong with it and took it positively and thought it was actually funny and creative! Yes they used a transgender woman but people should just take a chill pill and see the bigger picture.

Lizette Feris: I’m sorry that you ladies see nothing wrong with the ad. I guess it is the effects of living in a patriarchal society, and Namibia is definetly one where women should know their place. I wish that you too like Caitlin Jenner break free of the prisons you live in. Stay woke sisters, and you only have to work hard and be passionate to get a seat.
Don’t worry we don’t judge you, we want to emancipated you.

Jholerina Angel-Khoetage Timbo: It may seem like a nice ad to you ladies .but ask me who is the transgender woman living in this country with all the challenges of transitioning , stigma and discrimination that I face daily as me how I feel. This ad is a misinterpretation of what we are as a community .We do not transition into who we are because we want a seat at Truscos table for power.we transition to align ourselves more in how we see ourselves. This ad is misleading to me as a transgender person and a slap in my face as our lives seems to objectified to promote Transphobia by saying we are man and would do anything to get a seat. Transition has never been about a seat but about self and self love and being true to yourself.if i am transitioning only to get a seat it is a selfish and degrading notion for me as a transgender person in Namibia that constantly faces such bigotry and trans misogyny on a day to day basis. I am utterly disgusted and disappointed in Trustco.
Also as part of the community that is negatively impacted by this you can’t imagine to start to tell me how I should feel.As a transgender woman this is madness.now I walk down the street and now the Trustco slogan or tag line is used again. They do anything to get a seat oh shame. So you can’t take away my agency and bodily atonomy and tell me how I should feel about this trans degrading add. Trustco must put money where thier mouths are and used that money to promote engagement and not incite stigma and discrimination without recourse of how this will impact and effect me .who is a visible transgender woman out and about.faced with so much prejudice and insults. This ad is adding salt to my daily injuries

Alexis Zakarra: Everything about this ad is wrong, The message it is sending to the Namibian people about, first, how they should treat women, inclusive of trans women, and secondly, the language used and the surprisingly overt misogany and bigotry. The missing element in all of it, is who was responsible for the creation, approval and dissemination of the content, all men. The way those responsible for this distasteful ad responded afterwards. It says a lot about how patriarchy at its core is a tool used to undermine and subjugate women and those who don’t have a voice. As funny as it is, there lies truth in humour and jokes, but it doesn’t make it right. If you see nothing wrong with this as a women, than I challenge you to explore how you have and are internalizing patriarchy, that has numbed you in detecting your own oppression. Look past the funny and see the ad for what it really is within the bigger picture. A tool used to oppress; not in total isolation but as part of myriad ways in which women, trans women included, are trivialized and oppressed by those with power and means. And I won’t get into how a message like this can play out in actuality within the everyday context for women, trans women and those directly affected by this irresponsible ad.

Tuya Amakali: I don’t understand why people are saying it’s funny and we should see the humour in it. Why is it okay to make fun of someone because they are different, what makes trustco and everyone in agreement with this add think that Jenner transitioned for any reason other that is not internal and emotional. It’s not an easy thing making such a decision and it’s not an easy thing living such a life. How can it be funny and okay to make fun of other people’s struggles including the struggles that women face on a daily basis. When we walk down the street and men touch us inappropriately without our consent, is that okay? Is it funny to you as a victim of it because the men that do it are laughing? When you work in a men dominated environment and they laugh at every idea you bring because you belong in the kitchen even when your ideas are good, is that funny to you? As a member of the trustco board, if they constantly look at you and address you as merely a woman that looks good in board pictures, will that be funny to you? What kind of men are on that board and why do they see it fit to categorise and objectify women in that manner? I for one don’t think it’s funny, I personally think it’s insulting. We are all entitled to our opinions though

Manuel Oghlian: They really should stop watching The Wolf of Wall Street…

Monica Geingos: This is wrong on many levels and quite frankly, unacceptable. What scares me more than the crass and casual disrespect, the overt sexism, the transphobia and innuendos, what scares me the most is @qvr_ calling it “brilliant”. Don’t trivialise how this ad makes people feel.

Gordon Joseph: I don’t understand how no one in the production process saw how trashy and offensive and disgusting the advert is… makes make one question/wonder just how much diversity there is at that company…

Compiled by
Elsarien Katiti

Clothes aren’t an invitation

“The Society” tells you not to wear short skirts, or dresses or shorts as a lady.
“The Society” tells you that these clothes might attract attention, the type of attention you don’t want to get.
“The Society” tells you that you will look blowzy.
“The Society” tells you that the rate of being molested or raped is higher when you wear short things.

We should think about these assertions.

It is clear that people might look at you because they can see your thighs or boobs because of a bigger neckline. And it is clear that we have to deal with this malignant glances, because we will never change everybody’s mind.
But just because some men can see more of my skin is not an invitation for anything.
You shouldn’t whistle at me just cause you can see my legs.
You are not allowed to touch me just because you can see my skin.
And most of all you don’t have to molest, harass or rape me!

You should call to mind that my outfit isn’t asking for anything like that.
I have autonomy to my body and anything that happens to it requires my consent and approval!

Clothes are one way to personal fulfillment, and you should wear what you are comfortable in.
If you love green, wear green. If you love high heels, wear high heels. If you love tops, wear tops.

In a nutshell you should wear whatever you want, if it gives you the ability to feel beautiful.
Of cause there are occasions requiring you to wear clothes adaptive of the circumstances, for example church, wedding or school.
But what you are going to wear is never an invitation for anybody to take advantage of your body

I really wish that “The Society” will understand this someday.

By Ronja

Prevention is better than cure

As known, at Sister Namibia we organize workshops in schools about self-defense. “Unfortunately” we have to.
And I say “unfortunately”, because rather than safety techniques, wouldn’t it be better if pupils were trained how to be respectful and kind?!?
For example, what about integrating every school timetable with weekly classes of Kindness, Respect, Awareness and Commitment into social and environmental issues?
Young generations must be raised in a way to make the difference, to desire to live in a better world.
Actually, we all must open our eyes and be more sensitive regarding nowadays issues.
We must be more conscious, aware, AWAKE!
Sometimes we might feel desperate and hopeless, especially when we hear or read of dreadful horrible stories.
We end up by loosing hope in human kind and we wonder “What’s going on? Where the heck is this world going?”
We cannot lose hope though. We cannot give up.
Let’s commit ourselves and channel our energies in terms of sensibility, responsiveness, empathy.
We all are just transient on this earth and precisely because of this, we should spend our time here in the best way, make it worth it by changing it, somehow, into a better place.
So, again, let’s raise our kids in a way that they do NOT have to defend themselves from anybody and anything, without looking at the other as a potential enemy.
Let’s set up a world with NO FEARS.

By Chiara

Sorry-But Not Sorry

I am sorry that my sentiments on stopping rape-victim blaming are not politically comfortable enough for you.
I am sorry that you’re so ignorant to think that the rapist’s side of the story is suppressed.
I am sorry that you were not taught that sexually violating someone else’s body without their consent is wrong and unjustifiable.
I am sorry that you are not a woman, having to live in constant fear of a possibility of harassment.
That you are unknowing that actions against women are always diverted to them being in the wrong.

Where do I begin to educate you young sir?
Perhaps with a recent case. In the The Namibian newspaper dated 9 January 2018 (which was yesterday) a headline of a story read: “Father rapes own daughter
You know how old she was?
Six (6).
You know how old he was?
Fifty-two (52).
Which side of that story is it that you want clarity on?
Would you want a list of countless rape stories?
How about a mother who was raped after being dragged into a riverbed while carrying her two month old baby?

I am terribly sorry that you’re backwards, not sympathetic enough, not informed enough and ignorant.

But I am NOT SORRY of speaking up about and against rape and victim blaming!

So do me a favor, with time reflect upon your words and think about “what if it hit close to home”.
Think about your mother and sisters, about your daughter or one you might have in the future and if any of them are raped, and then repeat this (your very words):
“I am sorry mom or sis or my little daughter (angel), but you’re trying to tell us that we must always blame the person who rape (you) without hearing both sides of the story?”

Practice telling them that over and over (that’s the lesson I will give you today).
Maybe only then will you grasp the damaging magnitude of your words and the pain and plague they allow to grow in the world we are trying to heal one message at a time.

By Elsarien A. Katiti

Inform, Not Criticise

Growing up as a black child there are so many things you can’t say.
Topics you can’t question.
Actions you can’t receive satisfactory reasoning to.
Sex is one of those.
It is assumed that there is an egg in your head that will one day hatch and reveal all the secrets of the mysteries.
First kids are isolated according to gender, then they can’t play together. So many rules but never good reason for them.
Almost every adult had to learn it the hard way and still we expose our young to the same ignorant shadows of life.
We are so scared to bring up the topic of sex.
We are afraid that by talking about it we will encourage promiscuous behavior.
I remember picking up a box of condoms at a clinic for one of our teenage pregnancy classes and the pharmacist handing me the condoms was criticizing how “we” are the ones teaching children bad behavior and promoting sex.

The reality is young people are getting sexually active without our (parents, guardians, & educators) influence and they are doing so poorly informed and sometimes 0% safety equipped.

Societal criticism has scared our young ones away from seeking health care services.
So applaud those bringing information to your children!
Let us promote positive actions by individuals and organisations that stimulate change in society.
Our youth deserve a chance at being well informed, they need advice before the “wrong”.

It is us that need to take the reigns on being educators at home and in the community.
We cannot continue the culture of “They’ll figure it out themselves”.
Let them pre-learn from our mistakes.
Matters of sex should be openly engaged.

By Elsarien A. Katiti

A few cents to Freedom

Financing yourself or your lifestyle after leaving an abusive relationship in which you were financially dependent on the abuser is key to not repeat g the cycle of abuse.
I grew up with a story at the back of my mind. This story shaped from a young age how I would view relationships with the opposite sex and most importantly choosing not to ever be in an abusive relationship.
This story was of a women who would take her two little daughters in the middle of the night and play hide and seek, she would tell them not to make a noise and hide behind various objects so they could not be found by the drunken boyfriend and get beaten up.
This is a story of how when she had a better income job, she would be asked (demanded to leave), because she “thought she was better than him”.
A story of being beaten and stabbed to almost bleeding out. Where fist fights were a regular thing in this “loving” relationship.
What stuck with me most about this story was its end. The women in the end, out of fear of her daughters’ lives, lied to her boyfriend that she was visiting an aunt for only a weekend and packed a bag (which he decided on the specifics of what should be packed), which she however secretly added a few more items to and left everything she owned (the shack they stayed in was hers, even most household items inside) and never returned.
After all the abuse she had endured for years, one day she had the courage to run and not look back.
This women was my mother, and I was one of the little girls she had to run with.
Now of course life after that wasn’t particularly easy for her, she wasn’t educated or had a job and she had to stay with her brother for a while, until eventually she pulled her life together.
My mother is the reason why I had to break the cycle of uneducation, and dependency.
Knowing what she went through and seeing what other women go through because they become economically dependent on their partners gave me an idea on how these women can leave and still survive.
Every victim of abuse needs a support system, most times that’s family and friends, but some of these women have been isolated from their support systems by their manipulative partners and when they need support there is no one they are close to that can help, because everyone else is estranged to them by then.
But as being part of a society, every victim should have someone or organisation to count on for rehabilitation and assistance.
Recently having attended the Financial Literacy’s event on Investing, got me thinking on a subject of “Saving your way out of an abusive relationship”.
The very first question that was asked was “Why Invest/Save?” And answers ranged from “Buying a house/car to creating wealth and saving for an education”, but after attending the whole talk afterwards I asked if they had trustfunds or group savings for women who wanted to leave an abusive relationship. Of course no such thing exists, this is a country where people won’t report a fight or intervene because “it’s a personal/private affair of a couple”.
It got me thinking about having an exit plan and being strategic in the next phase of your life. I have heard countless stories of women feeling disempowered to stay because “who will pay for her rent/provide for a roof over her and the children’s heads, who will pay for school fees, who will buy clothes or who will feed them” if they leave. I’ve heard “even if he beats her, at least he takes care of her”.
They’re pyochologically bullied to stay, because they see no way out.
Here is the thing, one could say, why doesn’t the women go to school or get a job (if she can), and those are good ideas but her acquiring a job would raise questions as to why she feels the need to contribute financially after all this time and after he already supplies for every other need (and might just cause further abuse), so every reduced blow to her body is a bonus chip, and we don’t want her being further victimised. So what can she do?
Financial dependency has been one of the key factors in GBV and Partner violence in Namibia.
Being economically independent empowers women to walk away much more easily from abusive relationships that they would have otherwise prolonged in fear of not knowing how to sustain themselves afterwards.
Hence women empowerment cannot be spoken about in isolation of economic development.
Can these women then not start a trustfund or a stokvel where they can put in small sums of money that will eventually help them stand on their feet when it’s time to flee?
Is the survival of post-abuse perhaps dependant on gradually saving your way out of these relationships.
Organisations and well wishers can also contribute to these savings group so that the burden can be lightened on the victims of our society.
Could the solution be planning for the escape with a few pennies at a time?
Could a few cents contribute towards freedom from being abused?
By Elsarien Katiti

For The Girl Who Got Raped (Yesterday) And For Those Who Have Been Abused One Way Or Another

There are days we wake up hating everything about our bodies, wanting to leave it all behind and walk around naked in a way no one understands.
How we now look at every woman on the street and wonder if the space between her legs is a crime scene, surrounded by ripped caution tape.
How we walk around feeling like an accident.

We want to say that they have been waging a war against our bodies for too long.

We are the girls with bodies that need an apology, with bodies that need healing from all the ways they’ve been wounded.

Nobody ever taught us to somehow pick a survivor out of these ashes.

It is hard to live in a body that insists on pulling itself apart, a body that doesn’t know any better. It is hard to live with this body when it is a universe collapsing.

The statistics tell me that this is so common that I will never be in a room that does not contain a survivor. Not even if I am in that room alone.

This body belong to us— rough, worn, beaten. It is our home, our sanctuary, our safe place, we will stand in the ruins they have made of this body and turn it into something to be learned.
We will not let our bodies become wreckage.

This is my body, however unwanted. My body —say it with me: my body. Mine, mine, mine.

Written by Kamnelechukwu Susan Obasi

Photo: Kamnelechukwu Susan Obasi

 

I Was Robbed

In January this year, I was riding shotgun in a taxi, a million things on my mind… when someone tried to grab my phone from my hands through the window. It happened so suddenly and fast, that it took some time before I realised what had just almost happened. I was shaken and shocked. I’ve heard of these things happening to people, they just didn’t happen to me. I’m not saying I think I’m above crime or anything like that, I just honestly believed I send out so many good vibes into the universe, and it in turn just takes care of me. I swear I lived by that. And that day, that was taken from me.

He tried to steal my phone, he didn’t succeed. And I realise that’s not always the narrative, most people have had worst experiences, and have even been hurt, so I know just how lucky I am that I get to say, ‘He almost stole my phone.’ I’m a very happy-go-lucky kinda of person, and that incident probably happened to teach me to be a little more careful, and pay a little more attention to my surroundings. For the rest of that day, I was suspicious of anyone who walked too closely to me, I clutched onto my bag for dear life, and whenever someone even almost bumped into me a little, I’d go into a great panic, thinking someone is coming for my phone again. For that first day, I guess it was only natural. Problem is, about 8 months later… I still walk around with the same fear. I’ve gone from someone who trusted the universe, someone who lived to see the best in people… To someone who’s suspicious of almost every single person on the streets, which is no way to live.

So that guy may not have succeeded in stealing my phone that day(you should have seen his face, he was so mad), but he took something much worse from me: my faith in humanity. And I can’t help but wonder if the people who do these things even think about what they’re really doing, or for them it’s just about making a quick buck. And it doesn’t stop at just theft… People who rape others, can they imagine just what person has to live with for the rest of their lives? What they’ve done to their psyche and trust? The kind of memories they’ve left them with? I can’t help but wonder if they have any trouble living with themselves.

Written by Mimi Mwiya

What’s In Your Handbag?

I carry straws in my handbag. Cute, brightly coloured, bendy straws. Mostly because I like to have my drinks with a straw, and therefore like to be prepared for times and places where there are no straws. It has however also just become quite amusing when I ask my friends and/or colleagues if they’d like a straw, and I pull out a pink or purple one from my bag.

One evening my straws and I were put to shame though,we had a small get-together at a friend’s place, and quite a number of wine bottles were involved, but lo, a corkscrew was nowhere to be found.

Suddenly, Hularia Zaahl, known to many as “Hula”, says, “I have a corkscrew, I always carry it in my handbag.” Automatically she saved the night. No wine bottle heads had to be broken open, or better yet, no one had to lose a finger trying to attempt the sabrage technique.

I carry straws in my bag, she carries a corkscrew, ah, I had met my heroine. And it’s not just for opening wine too, Hula can use her corkscrew for other things like opening cans, should the need arise.  It is not the only handy item she carries in her handbag either, she also has a small torch and a screwdriver amongst other things, because you just never know when you might need them.

Apart from the handy tools, she also carries some handy medication, namely pain killers and Acitop. Those prone to pesky cold sores will understand, so once you start feeling that tingly itchy sensation creeping up, you know it is time to kill it with Acitop.

Commonly, a woman’s handbag houses lip gloss or balm, lipstick, face powder, perfume and her wallet. We would like to know what handy tools you carry in your handbag daily and what you use them for. Let’s discuss.

Written by Mimi Mwiya

 

Photo: Hularia Zaahl.

20160706_142028