Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani says he supports calls for Namibia to legalise abortion.

Venaani on Monday said abortion and the rights of minority genders would be some of the topics to be discussed at the PDM’s policy conference later this year.

He made these remarks during his ‘real’ state of the nation address in Windhoek.

Venaani said Namibians should move away from religious and traditional beliefs when it comes to addressing the question of women’s rights.

“I fully support abortion. I think it is time that this country must rise above the history of religion and tradition. Women must have rights in this country. If women believe that they want to do it voluntarily, there is no reason why they should go behind and find a sangoma [traditional doctor] to get abortion. These are some of the contested topics and as we are approaching our policy conference as a party, we will discuss some of these issues,” Venaani said.

He was responding to a request by human rights activist and former parliamentarian Rosa Namises to raise the challenges faced by women and the LGBTQ+ community in the National Assembly to influence government policies.

Namises said she wants to see the PDM formulate policies aimed at bringing about solutions to the socio-economic challenges facing the nation but equally support calls and initiatives to improve the rights of women and the LGBTQ+ community.

“I am asking the PDM to help raise our heads so that as people we are able to look into the future. We have spoken a lot about gender equality. Now we need to start talking about equity and I want the parliamentarians to understand what it means.

“The majority of our women are speaking in different forms. They speak about abortion. They want it legalised. They speak about leadership and they want to be party to it. We want to see change,” Namises said.

Namises also expressed disappointment about gender minister Doreen Sioka, who she said had spoken against development and against government policies on gender and women issues. “It is very sad for the minister to tell people to give [over their unwanted] babies when there is not even facilities to keep Covid-19 patients,” she said.

Venaani’s ‘real’ state of the nation address was held as a response and to highlight some issues left out by president Hage Geingob when he delivered his address earlier this month.

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