By: Selma Taapopi
Members of the Young Feminists Movement Namibia (YFEM) are demanding that same-sex couples be included and protected by the Domestic Violence Act 6 of 2002.
About 50 group members held a peaceful protest and submitted a petition to Parliament today calling for inclusivity of queer communities and in the form of gender-neutral language.
The feminist movement- who chanted slogans such as: “We Belong” - “Ti ta ke a moffie” - “Omashenge Ovanhu” and “Not the Church, not the State, people must decide their fate”- stated the current Act excludes same-sex couples.
Director at the Young Feminists Movement, Florence Khaxas, who read the petition on behalf of the group stated that same sex households exists and should be protected.
"Same sex households exist whether we like it or not and they will continue to exist. We need to protect everybody not just some people.Earlier we were being told about how people are going to the police but they are not being protected because the law is not protecting us, but today we are saying enough is enough, protect all Namibians nobody should be excluded” stated Khaxas. She added that lack of protection encourages offenders to get away with violence and further fosters discriminatory treatment by law enforcement officers and other stakeholders. "That is why we are here to demand that the domestic violence Act be amended to have a gender neutral language. Remove being of different sexes, it’s not necessary for it to be there. We want a language that includes everybody.We want a language that protects everybody”, stated Khaxas.
National Assembly Acting Secretary, Joyce Nakita, received the petition and assured the group that their demands will be forwarded to the speaker of the National Assembly and the relevant parliamentary standing committee.
"The petition will be submitted to the speaker of the National Assembly who will then announce it in the house, make sure that everyone hears that there has been a submission of this petition and then it will be sent to the relevant standing committee" Nakita told the protestors.
In addition, protestors called on all genders to be protected as domestic violence exists between homosexual and heterosexual couples. However, they stated the law does not protect them further urging fellow members in same-sex relationships to take advantage of the upcoming elections and vote wisely. “Next year is an election year. Who you vote into office is going to matter. What happens at the ballot box is going to matter.We have had enough of these people not caring about the most vulnerable marginalised people in this country. Vote like your lives depend on it because it does'' Civil Rights Activist Omar van Reenen remarked.