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.
Written by Kamnelechukwu Susan Obasi
Photo: Kamnelechukwu Susan Obasi
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
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.
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
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
There are so many laws that contain the rights of women and have the goal to protect them. The problem is the legislative texts are written in high, formal and sometimes even incomprehensible words.Law seems to be a “jungle of words” and formulations most people do not understand. That’s not only a big problem I’ve witnessed in Namibia, but even in Germany the law is unclear and hard to understand for general people. I asked myself why the lawmakers use such difficult and complicated words to describe the rights, people should be aware of. Isn´t it ironic that the law is made for people and should protect them but on the other hand the people do not understand it because of the way it is written? Isn´t the goal of law, that people should understand their rights and should be able to exercise them?
At Sister Namibia I have the opportunity to create “Presentations” on topics of law. The Presentations will explain the difficult and long legislative texts of law in a short and simple way so that everyone is able to understand their rights. I just finished my first presentation on the “”CEDAW”- The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women-and learnt, there is a big necessity to reformulate the law in a language general people will understand. Without knowing what your rights are, you are not be able to exercise them. A lot of women still do not know about their basic rights. Often there is no punishment for the violation of women`s rights because the women do not know what has happened to them is wrong and therefore do not report the offence to the police, for example “child marriage”, “any kind of violation” or “widow grabbing”. As long as women do not know about their rights it is impossible to stop the violation of them.
I enjoy working for Sister Namibia and feel blessed to be part of the organization and be given the chance to inform women about the rights they have.
Written by Sonja Monger, Intern.
On Tuesday, 19 April 2016 I attended a panel discussion on Access to information and how it impacts development. The evening started off with an eleven minute short film (on how accessible information is in Namibia as well as the importance of this accessibility).
All in all, the evening was certainly a very interesting and informative one, I would just like to make a response that I wasn’t able to make then, because there was a bit of a time crunch.
There was a gentleman behind me, I believe a lecturer at the University of Namibia (UNAM) who lamented about how we can hardly expect the general masses to know and exercise their right of access to information when the “learned” combined students of 20 000 (give or take) students of UNAM and the Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST, former Polytechnic of Namibia) readily have access to information, but they don’t use it: There are no riots, no protests, no one truly questions anything.
I heard what he was saying, didn’t disagree with him, but also found myself wanting to get a little defensive. I’ve always said the worst thing about the Namibian youth is how passive we are and how we take everything (access to information included, maybe especially) for granted. I have also, however, been aware that when I speak of the passive Namibian youth who takes things for granted, I am she. I hate to watch the news and/ or read the papers. I find keeping up with current affairs depressing and frustrating, to say the least. In part, it’s because I really do not feel like I have the energy to care about everything that’s going on, and I think it’s difficult to be aware without caring. Mostly though, it is because caring and feeling like there is not much you can do, is exhausting and leaves me defeated and feeling powerless.
It’s always the same crowd. I can almost guess, name for name, face for face, who will show up at what events: The protests, the public discussions, the forums, the awareness events… It’s almost always the same crowd. And what is the point then? Just what impact can we hope to make if all these discussions we’re having and the questions we’re asking are only amongst each other? If it’s only the same people ever giving a damn? That aside, often it feels like there isn’t even a point to speaking up and questioning things. Maybe the powers that be do listen, but only ever to claim they’ve listened, there’s never truly any action. And it’s disheartening, to say the least.
Of course this may not be the case for everyone, the average Namibian youth may just not be interested, but I don’t think we’ve been given the greatest motivation to be.
Written by Mimi Mwiya
Who/ What stands behind this poem? Do you know?
“I destroy homes, tear families apart – take your children, and that’s just the start.
I’m more costly than diamonds, more costly than gold – the sorrow I bring is a sight to behold.
And if you need me, remember I’m easily found.
I live all around you, in schools and in town.
I live with the rich, I live with the poor, I live down the street, and maybe next door.
My power is awesome – try me you’ll see.
But if you do, you may never break free.
Just try me once and I might let you go, but try me twice, and I’ll own your soul.
When I possess you, you’ll steal and you’ll lie.
You’ll do what you have to just to get high.
The crimes you’ll commit, for my narcotic charms, will be worth the pleasure you’ll feel in your arms.
You’ll lie to your mother; you’ll steal from your dad.
When you see their tears, you should feel sad.
But you’ll forget your morals and how you were raised.
I’ll be your conscience, I’ll teach you my ways.
I take kids from parents, and parents from kids, I turn people from God, and separate from friends.
I’ll take everything from you, your looks and your pride, I’ll be with you always, right by your side.
You’ll give up everything – your family, your home, your friends, your money, then you’ll be alone.
I’ll take and I’ll take, till you have nothing more to give.
When I’m finished with you you’ll be lucky to live.
If you try me be warned this is no game.
If given the chance, I’ll drive you insane.
I’ll ravish your body, I’ll control your mind.
I’ll own you completely; your soul will be mine.
The nightmares I’ll give you while lying in bed.
The voices you’ll hear from inside your head.
The sweats, the shakes, the visions you’ll see.
I want you to know, these are all gifts from me.
But then it’s too late, and you’ll know in your heart, that you are mine, and we shall not part.
You’ll regret that you tried me, they always do.
But you came to me, not I to you.
You knew this would happen.
Many times you were told, but you challenged my power, and chose to be bold.
You could have said no, and just walked away.
If you could live that day over, now what would you say?
I’ll be your master; you will be my slave.
I’ll even go with you, when you go to your grave.
Now that you have met me, what will you do?
Will you try me or not?
Its all up to you.
I can bring you more misery than words can tell.
Come take my hand, let me lead you to hell.”
By: Sister Namibia Intern Sonja Wiencke
The past weekend saw the grand celebration of Namibia’s 25th Independence Day – Celebrating 25 years of peace and stability. This is an impressive achievement on which we want to congratulate everyone involved.
But can we really be sure that every Namibian is at peace today?