Priskila P. Nahenu
As gender-based violence, which is already at an alarming rate, continues to increase every minute of every hour in Namibia, we need to see how we can reduce the bullying of the girl child and keep her safe in school.
It is sad that nowadays a girl child in school can neither confidently walk nor talk in class or the corridors of school due to boys laughing at her and calling her names just because they saw a stain of period blood on her skirt.
‘You are leaking blood.’
These kinds of words are emotionally damaging to a girl child in school.
This is bullying, and bullying is emotional abuse, which qualifies it to be categorised as gender-based violence.
It is not just one girl child who is painted by this bullying, but it is women as a whole painted all over this kind of bullying.
It is scary that this type of bullying might affect the academic performance of a girl child in school as a result of loss of confidence and absenteeism due to bullying.
This kind of bullying might cause a girl child to drop out of school and miss out on education.
It can also trigger anxiety and depression, and cause a negative impact on one’s mental health and well-being.
Yes, it is understandable that there are quite a number of different NGOs visiting from school to school, aiming at fighting GBV – but in most cases, they are focusing on empowering a girl child and excluding the boy child. Furthermore, most of these NGOs are prioritising reducing HIV infections and talking less about gender-based violence.
A boy child needs to be able to challenge the normalisation of bullying a girl child when they see a stain of period blood on her skirt.
Teachers, parents and society, it is time to teach the boy child to take responsibility so that a girl feels protected around them; to raise a boy child into a caring and supportive man; to have a mindset of assisting a girl by giving her his jersey to cover herself because she had messed on her skirt, instead of bullying her.
Without a multi-pronged intervention strategy that gets to grips with the root of problems, such as bullying and putting women at shame, these types of violence will not stop.
Therefore, the schoolboy needs to be more educated with an understanding of menstruation to embrace the thought that menstruation is a natural occurrence in the lives of women and girls, and for them not to be seen as unclean.
A recommendation to the Namibians: make your voice heard by declaring that enough is enough.
Challenge the normalisation of gender-based violence in Namibia.
Challenge gender stereotypes and roles.
Challenge the condoning of bullying women.
Challenge the belief that says when you see a stain of blood on a woman’s skirt it means she is unhygienic.
* Priskila P. Nahenu is a student at the International University of Management. This essay is part of her English Proficiency assignment.