Next week, Namibian women and all interested groups will join other women of the world in observing and celebrating 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, culminating in celebrations for human rights on December 10. Namibian women also celebrate on December 10, which has been designated Namibia Women’s Day. The timing of the two is not by coincidence – the idea is to reinforce the fact that women’s rights are human rights. And gender violence is not only directed against women – it is violence perpetrated on the basis of gender. However, violence against women and children, or any violence against fellow human beings for that matter, should not only be acted against during certain designated days in the year. In an ideal world, and the world has never been ideal, there should never be need for reminders or sensitization campaigns, and yet here we are. Hence we wish also to add our voice to the campaigns, also even going further and urging ourselves to now embrace the spirit of the festive season and show more tolerance, more empathy and more appreciation for our fellow human beings. It should not only be our families that we should show compassion to, but fellow travellers on our roads, as well as other people in general. Violence is not only physical – it is also psychological, which has been found to have more far-reaching effects than the physical. Physical violence leaves scars for all to see, scars that can be nursed and perhaps heal. Emotional or psychological violence, however, leaves “invisible” scars that are deeper by virtue of their being internal. They tend to last longer because much has to do with personal strength, and almost always leave survivors with varying levels of trauma. Research and experience have proved that most violence is inflicted by those closest to us, by people that we trust and would not normally suspect. Therefore, we all owe it to ourselves to foster our relationships with trust and embrace the spirit of caring rather than killing, raping and other forms of abuse. If everyone made the effort to bring out the most positive aspects of their personality in the effort to reach out to each other, then there would be no room for hurt, crying, torment and torture – and above all, road accidents. On the other hand, we should also set out to protect ourselves and those close to us from potentially violent situations, in the same way as others would want to protect themselves against us. As the festive season approaches, we should remind ourselves that it is time to give, it is time to be merry, it is family time. It is time to discard the year’s grudges, as well as to forgive. No use in carrying the bitterness of the past year into the new year. It is time to show that we care, not only for our biological families but those in our communities who may be less fortunate than us, both materially and spiritually. It is time to reach out to others. We believe the human spirit was not made to be violent – it was made to share peace and love. Surely it must take a lot of effort to go against the human spirit?
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