Category Archives: Sister’s Blog

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.

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Child Online Protection

I was 19 when I first created a Facebook account. I barely understood what it was, and had all of 5 friends. I didn’t know what I was doing and didn’t pay too much attention to what I was sharing, in fact, a couple of weeks in, I remember my brother calling me and furiously asking why I was telling millions of Facebook users that I was single. I told him I wasn’t exactly “telling” them, it had just been on my profile… which unfortunately was accessible to millions of users.

Since then, Facebook’s privacy settings have improved greatly, or I just understand them better. Either way, I have better control about what I choose to share about myself, and with whom. On the other hand, I had my first Facebook account at a time that not only was Facebook very strict about their “no under 18s without adult approval” rule, but people actually gave their real ages. These days it is clear people don’t always give their real age.

There has never been a more chilling reminder of this than when we attended Namibia’s first National Conference on Child Online Protection held at the Hilton Hotel (18-19 May 2016) and one of the speakers showed us a video of a young man, Coby Persin, who has a fake Facebook profile that he uses to see how much personal information girls will share with strangers, and how quickly they will share this information. The video shows girls mostly ranging from 12-14 giving out their home addresses, or agreeing to meet with Coby within a couple of days of chatting.

The internet has made our lives easier in many ways: We have access to information and communications with our loved ones, literally at our fingertips. It has however, also opened us up to a number of evils like cyber bullying, increased child pornography and online sexual grooming. Today’s youth think nothing of sharing “sexy” images of themselves with the general public. Even when shared privately (with a boyfriend or close friend), they can still be used as blackmail, extortion, or acts of violence when things go sour in the relationship.

It is hard enough to keep our children safe offline, imagine how much harder it is online. For every new measure taken to combat cyber crimes, cyber criminals will probably find ten new ways to evade justice. One would think Namibia is such a small country we are not affected, but this is a global problem, because, like one of the speakers pointed out, child pornography acts could be initiated in India, reproduced for mass “consumption” in Belgium, then distributed in Namibia. So no one can afford to turn a blind eye. This is everyone’s problem, and we each have a responsibility to ourselves, and to each other to encourage and promote safety online, especially for our children, whose photos often times are found online without their knowledge. Their parents (and/or whoever else posts these pictures) mean no harm, but there’s always an invisible audience and irreversible damage can be done.

Namibia is one of 17 countries in the world that is part of #WePROTECT – Children Online, a worldwide cooperation that aims to stop the crime of online child sexual abuse and exploitation. We protect is an initiative of the UK government and you can find out more about it at http://www.weprotect.org.

Written by Mimi Mwiya

He Walks With His Own Feet

A home should offer a space of inherent security and love. Yet the evil choices of some of our very own family have turned home into a place of human rights abuses for the very people that should find security and love.
Why do I regard domestic violence as such an unacceptable transgression? It is because the perpetrator – a supposed loved one – violates another human being, inflicting pain on the flesh or emotions of people who should have priority protection. While I cannot speak for others, I have been taught that I have no rights over the liberties of another being, not even my little brother.
I remember my sister arguing with me on his behalf for him to tag along on strolls with us older kids. She would say “he is walking with his own feet.”
And of course he did. What a silly argument. Despite my sister’s strange logic she impressed upon me the truth of the absoluteness of a person’s freedom and inherent liberties. In spite of my reluctance and frustration to have him join us on simple walks, I recognised that he could “walk with his own feet” wherever he chose to. I would not even have had to protect him against bullies or dogs, so I had no excuse why he couldn’t join us.
Violence begins with something as simple as standing in the way of a younger brother to live out his freedom of expression or movement because then I act as if I own him and can limit his rights.
As men we should consider how we lord it over children and women to limit their rights when there are no legitimate reasons to do so.

Written by Perfecto the model