By Engel Nawatiseb TSUMEB The Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Petrina Haingura has lashed out at some youth who indulge in anti-social conduct mostly by using cannabis, which is banned in the country. She said the use of cannabis may make conditions such as schizophrenia worse and may delay recovery because it (cannabis) is not an inert substance and if abused could develop serious problems. Haingura stated that government is currently in the process of banning public smoking (tobacco) to protect the health of “passive” smokers but felt discouraged by the use of the illegal drug by the youth who are the future leaders of the country. She condemned the drug abusers who may advance that cannabis could heal some ailments, claiming that such believers are ill advised. “They are creating confusion; cannabis cannot treat illnesses because we have enough medicine for treating patients. Instead those drugs lead to people slaughtering their wives and other shocking crimes, things that our people do not engage in on sober minds.” “Our Ministry of Health and Social Services was created for a special purpose of ensuring that the nation is healthy and in good physical and mental state. Cannabis is a drug and has the ability to disturb people’s minds. Imagine our own children, the future leaders of our country have adopted the attitude of shouting at their parents and indulging in all sorts of anti-social and unacceptable behaviour.” She urged community leaders countrywide to run education campaigns about the dangers and risks of cannabis use in order to protect the youth and citizens against possible destruction of the nation at large. “If there are any medical doctors out there prescribing cannabis for any condition, then they are involved in an illegal activity and should be forthwith exposed to authorities. We cannot tolerate agendas aimed at destroying our young nation of less than two million inhabitants.” Sources at Tsumeb have blamed the police for being reluctant to clamp down on cannabis uses and “merchants” although the identities of most suspects are known to the law enforcement agents. According to them, many young men are using the drug in public but are not arrested and enjoy the privilege of “self-destruction”. “Our youth need rehabilitation before it gets too late to discourage this bad trend. Our country needs productive citizens but the reality has proven that cannabis users are lazy to wake up to get to their work places and they eventually get fired for constant absenteeism,” said the source. Meanwhile, the Regional Chairperson of the Oshikoto Youth Forum, Armas Amukwiyu encouraged the youth to participate actively in youth development initiatives in the region. According to him, the youth are not visible in the fight against drug and alcohol abuse, crime and other destructive activities because they are the immediate culprits that are involved in the promotion of such activities. He stressed that government has created an enabling environment and multiple opportunities to engage the youth through constructive developmental programmes and cannot call for more if the youth are reluctant to capitalise on the opportunities. “I do not blame all of them, but the majority of them are disappointing us on a serious note. In some parts of our region, youth centres were closed indefinitely because of the youth abusing drugs and alcohol at youth centres, and others stealing equipment that was donated to them. Such practices are against the spirit of youth development and render a serious blow to our agendas that are aimed at empowering the youth,” said Amukwiyu. He added that the regional youth forum would soon conduct an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign that will engage close to 3 000 youth to benefit from training in health related activities. Amukwiyu said the UNICEF-sponsored pilot programme would officially be launched in the Oshikoto, Caprivi and Otjozondjupa regions next month. He encouraged the youth to support the project in the fight against the scourge of HIV/AIDS that has already claimed the lives of thousands of youth in the country. Also taking issue with the rate of abuses against women and children, Haingura lashed out at men who are violating their rights. She stressed that women have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, contrary to the current escalation of violence against women and children in the country. “We are telling these lovely men to leave us in peace, but they continue to show their physical strength. Violence against us is an obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of equality, development and peace. Let us live in harmony and love because we need each other and that bond cannot be broken with force. We need to speak our differences openly, we are tired of becoming innocent victims of male brutality. “We have a ministry created to advance the cause of women. Indeed we have achieved a lot but time has arrived for women to do more by campaigning for their cause as we are doing with HIV/AIDS.” Haingura appealed to men to create an environment for women that maintains peace and promotes and protects their rights and the peaceful settlement of domestic disputes, instead of using force that could impact negatively on the integrity of both women and men. She urged such men to accept the fact that there are considerable differences in women’s and men’s access to opportunities to exert power over economic structures in their societies. “Our men need to live with the reality that some women are more advanced than their male counterparts. “However, should that be enough reason for killing us innocent souls, then law enforcement should be beefed up to protect us because more women are now rising to take their rightful places in society, high offices and other domains that were previously only reserved for men,” stated Haingura. According to her, the women have come to terms with the fact that the empowerment and autonomy of women and the improvement of their social, economic and political status is essential for the achievement of both transparent and accountable government and administration and sustainable development in all areas of life. She accused men that are attempting to block women from active participation in public life of being over reactive and at times jealous, describing them as belonging to a different society other than the Namibian nation. She added that multi-dimensional difficulties and constraints had been encountered in the work for women’s empowerment, amongst them the reported cases of violence visibly on the increase. Most of the violence against women, she said, took place within the households although in some instances women are now at the crossroad where they are faced with the ideology of patriarchy. She told New Era that the increasing worrying trend of violence against women should therefore be explained as the outcome of a contradiction against the ideology of patriarchy, manifested in social restrictions against women’s mobility, the system of early marriages for girls as well as the restriction on negotiating rights.
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