Community perspectives on the Safety, Inclusion and Protection of Youth - Afrikagrupperna

Nyhet 2022-12-01

Community perspectives on the Safety, Inclusion and Protection of Youth

Keetmanshoop Youth Project aims to improve the life opportunities of young LGBT+ people, and adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in Keetmanshoop, a peri-urban town in southern Namibia. With 15-24-year-olds as the primary emphasis of the project, the project focuses on strengthening movements for change and facilitating positive shifts in community and state responses to these vulnerable and marginalised groups.  

During 24 – 28 October 2022, the project with Positive Vibes piloted a new methodology, ‘Move the Dial’, a method that aims to explore community perceptions and experience around marginalised youth on three key indicators: Safety, Protection & Inclusion. Founded in the principles of community led monitoring, the method was designed by Positive Vibes to enable community members to assess the current status of these indicators in their environment, set the dial on where status is currently at, as well as develop indicators to monitor movement in the dial towards Safety, Protection and Inclusion. 


Many operating systems use pressure, temperature, speed gauges, with an easy to read and interpret dial to monitor changes, and importantly signal potential DANGER within the system. The dial reduces confusion, errors, and inaccuracies and presents current conditions of that system. When the dial moves towards the orange and red, colors symbolically used to represent danger, those that engage with the system can easily detect a status of malfunctions/errors/hazards. Processes to remedy the risk, alleviate the pressure, will be actioned to move the dial towards the safer blue and green. Ignoring this will result in potentially hazardous, irrevocable and catastrophic results. 

Confronted daily with DIALS in various shapes and forms, such as those used in our cars, pressure and temperature gauges, as well as colours signifying danger and safety (think traffic light) the DIAL is an easy, universal, transferable and relatable symbol to use to measure SAFETY, PROTECTION and INCLUSION. 


Safety in Keetmanshoop

In general, safety is a concern in Keetmanshoop. Sexual and physical violence, hate speech, alcohol misuse has been normalized in this city, according to all stakeholders.  

The safety analysis group indicted that all public spaces are unsafe to all, irrespective of your age, sexual orientation and/or gender identity. They did however acknowledge that these factors did increase individual’s risk significantly. This group also indicated that as a result of cyclical and perpetual violence, youth especially face many mental welfare concerns. 

To Move the Dial, they proposed the following as priority areas:  

• Strengthening accesses to mental health services, primary health care, and well as social workers. 
• Community engagement in processes, such as community policing and establishment of neighborhood watches, to facilitate safety and security. 
• Engagement with entertainment establishments to increase vigilance on youth safety. 

Protection in Keetmanshoop

The protection group indicated that a lack of transparency among government officials, political parties, CSO groups resulted in siloed, ineffective interventions aimed at increasing the protection of community. This group also found that all stakeholders indicated a general lack of trust in law enforcement, and the abuse of power, and often violence by law enforcers. Coupled with a lack of constitutional, human rights and legal literacy, community members found it difficult to engage with law enforcement. They found queer school-going youth and sex workers to be most vulnerable to stigma, discrimination and violence. The group found it a worrying indicator that young men too were fearful of violence within Keetmanshoop. 

To Move the Dial, they proposed the following as priority areas: 

• Reinforcement school protection policies, anti-bullying procedures and inclusive education policies and strategies, with associated curriculum to comprehensively address sexual and gender diversity. 
• The purposeful action of state agents mandated with safety and protection to protect, include and prioritise groups most vulnerable in communities, including sex workers, young girls and LGBT community members. 
• The involvement of parents, family and community members in school community. 

Inclusion in Keetmanshoop

The inclusion analysis group indicated that the inclusion in decision-making in all spheres of political and social policies making was a need expressed by all groups.  

They found that the stakeholder group indicated that ministry bodies often worked in siloes, however efforts have been implemented to have joint decision-making processes.  

The Group also indicated that all groups indicated that process focused on community monitoring in relation to safety, protection and inclusion is new, and when actioned, often leave rural communities behind in processes. This group strongly felt that marginalized communities are such, because of the significant gap in legal literacy, limited spaces for dialogue sessions with leaders, and lack of inclusion of community decision-making processes. 

To Move the Dial, they proposed the following as priority areas: 
• Consultations with community members during decision making processes 
• The voice of diverse community members be prioritized in community consultations. 
• Youth involvement in community policing 
• Acknowledgement of LGBT community members in churches. 
• Community and police to establish mechanisms for working together more effectively. 
• Police brutality be addressed 
• Sex workers to be included in decision making processes 
• Ensure that information reaches all community members, especially peri-urban and rural communities.