The Thursdays in Black campaign for a world free from rape and violence has been intensified in Namibia, bringing awareness of the heightened risk of violence against women and children during the COVID-19 lockdown.
In conjunction with Thursdays in Black, religious leaders in Namibia have helped lead the “White Ribbon campaign in Namibia”, with support from the World Council of Churches Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy programme in Southern Africa.
Namibia, which was already experiencing high incidences of violence against women prior to the lockdown, has seen more cases being reported. The White Ribbon campaign, in partnership with churches in Namibia, has redoubled efforts to generate awareness of sexual and gender-based violence, and to respond to the challenge.
Through weekly radio programmes and videos on social media, the campaign has been reaching adolescents and youth from various churches.
Feedback from men has been particularly significant, as they acknowledge their role in the increasing incidences of violence against women. “Staying at home is difficult for men, who have traditionally been socialised to go out,” says Brother Charles Simakumba, social community mobilization director of the White Ribbon campaign. The campaign aims to engage men and boys in order to transform their attitudes towards women and girls. The security services sector in Namibia has also embraced the Thursdays in Black campaign.
According to Pastor Monica Awene of Gospel Mission Church, the White Ribbon and Thursdays in Black campaigns are quite strategic through use of the radio. Awene explained that, by using media platforms that are accessible to the majority of citizens and collaborating with local religious leaders, the White Ribbon campaign is contributing to the struggle against sexual and gender-based violence.
“Most campaigns are limited to urban areas, but through the radio, they have been able to take the message deep into the rural areas,” she said.