Passion killings also known as intimate partner homicides refer to the violent crime of killing one’s partner. It should not necessarily be mistaken with a “crime of passion”. Even though in some cases it does have some impulsive characteristics, passion killings are more often than not premeditated well thought out, retaliatory punishments for perceived wrongdoing. It is necessary to clarify this to avoid the mistake of attributing this killings as one-off occurrences that should not be viewed as a National problem.
This violent crime has become something of a norm in Namibia and a recent combatant measure is being deliberated upon to tackle the issue, but first we must explore the concept a little more. The Namibian police defines passion killings as murder cases between intimate partners like husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend or exes. In 2015 alone there was an attributed 48 of such murders and 2014 had 36. Namibia which is designated as a rich nation but has one of the most socially unequal economies in Africa has just 2.5 million citizens scattered across its vast expanse and this relatively modest number of citizens make the data worrisome.
The killings in the past have been connected to Namibia’s view regarding male authority and power, in a country where men are expected to have and demonstrate their control over their women, it’s not so difficult to label that as the problem. It would also be unfair to merely leave deductions at that seeing as some men have also been murdered by women. So what else should be considered? Well for one, Namibia’s violent past certainly has a part to pay; despite a booming tourism industry and enviable infrastructure, Namibia’s poorest citizens still have to grapple with their traumatic and violent apartheid past that saw most of them denied an education.
It’s also important to consider the availability of lethal weapons, drugs and alcohol along with aforementioned social inequality, which would create misguided youth in any place. The issue of passion killings in Namibia is therefore a complicated one that requires concentrated effort and although resistance against the phenomenon has begun with campaigns against gender-based violence, that sort of language might seem too elitist for the poor masses. The recent consideration has to do with contractual dating which would involve the issue of dating contracts to youths who wish to enter relationships.
New era newspaper’s Nuusita Ashipala who had reported on the elder’s meeting where the concept had been discussed last week said that a local politician had said that the time had come for the radical proposal, so that parents would know who their children were involved with. Okalongo Councillor Laurentius Iipinge sounded out that; “It is better to have agreements known to the families, rather than hearing that your daughter was killed because she misused her boyfriend’s resources or vice versa”.
He believes that the contracts could be renewed on a yearly basis, to allow for those who wanted to leave toxic relationships to do so. He again suggested that those who feel robbed could settle accounts or scores through their families rather than resorting to anger, rage and murder.
It is doubtful whether this will work as in some cases, money is not the singular issue driving this killings, this is immediately evident when one considers the 2013 Namibian Demographic Health Survey which projects the reality that; “Forty percent (40) of men and 35 percent of women in Namibia believe that it is okay for a wife to be slapped by her partner for reasons such as burning the food, going out ‘without permission’ or refusing to have sex”. Be that as it may however, as the country turns 26 this March any hope for tackling this menace should be welcome.