Africa-Press – Namibia. THAT gender and social welfare minister Doreen Sioka remains in such a crucial position, despite repeatedly showing that she is not a champion of women’s and children’s rights, suggests president Geingob’s slogan “we heard you” was empty rhetoric.
Two weeks ago, Sioka made a mockery of yesterday’s commemoration of the ‘Day of the Namibian Woman’ and International Human Rights Day by gunning for the victims.While launching the UN-designated 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, Sioka declared that victims of sexual and gender-based violence should be jailed for withdrawing cases. The 16 Days of GBV culminated with a commemoration and celebrations on 10 December –– yesterday.Sioka has resisted calls to resign amid a string of incidents where she either downplayed sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) or outrightly sided with male domination. She has consistently undermined efforts to eliminate SGBV and crimes against children.The following are examples that speak for themselves.Sioka pushes polygamy (Namibian Sun, 25 November 2015)Minister Sioka stands by her call to jail GBV victims (NBC, 4 December 2020)Sioka says rapists of minors force their “AK-47’s” into victims (The Namibian, 8 October 2020)Sioka opposes abortion because she is a Christian (The Namibian, 22 June 2020)Sioka says women must stop cheating to avoid GBV (The Namibian,13 March 2014)Sioka orders women to stop dumping babies (another or else) (NBC, 26 February 2020)Sioka ignores protests and calls to resign (The Namibian, 26 October 2020)The list, as the phrase goes, is endless. Surely, no one could miss such outrageous public statements and actions that should be legitimate grounds to fire the minister. She does no justice to her title ‘minister of gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare’.If president Hage Geingob and his Cabinet colleagues continue to harbour someone like that in their midst, let alone to ‘lead’ campaigns for gender equality, children’s security, general social welfare and against SGBV, they are all tone deaf.Sioka shows no sign that she either believes in or wants to protect victims of SGBV.We could not have said it better than first lady Monica Geingos who criticised Sioka on social media: “Withdrawal of GBV cases is a real problem. So [but], I’d like to see the evidence that informs a ‘solution’ that’s likely to disincentivise and criminalise abused women (who lack resources, or fear for their lives) from reporting. Imagine we end up convicting more victims than perpetrators.”Geingos’s couragous remarks should be appreciated in the context of our society that all too easily forgives and covers up violence against women, especially by the very men who claim to love them.Mr President, keeping Sioka in your Cabinet one day longer, especially entrusting her with protecting women and children, indicates that you have not heard the cries.We trust you will not simply recycle Sioka to another position. She and others like her will continue to do damage in the struggles against SGBV and other areas of social welfare.