THE month of August focuses our attention on the trials and tribulations women have undergone, their successes and challenges, but more importantly gender based violence, which is now spiralling out of control in our country. While we focus on this pandemic only in August, they live this life of rape, sexual harassment and die at the hands of their partners, everyday. And events such as the one to be attended by Deputy Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, who will be among the speakers alongside the disgraced former ANC MP Mduduzi Manana, begs the question: are women not part of the problem in promoting patriarchy and insensitivities around gender based violence?
Gender based violence is a human rights issue. It speaks to the question of whether we can have a just society when just over half of our population lives in fear of being attacked and their lives and capacity to contribute to the world is cut short by a man, who in most cases, is someone they know.
Women in particular, are always the target, since time immemorial; be it in domestic settings or in war, they have always been the victim of a tradition of impunity. A father, an uncle, a brother, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Iraq, Peru, Pakistan, Bosnia, liberation movements in Africa – everyone feels they are entitled to a woman’s body. It is true that men are also the target of rape, something which should also come to the spotlight.
Violence against women in conflict situations assumes many forms; rape is often only one of the ways in which women are targeted. But while other abuses, such as murder and other forms of torture have long been denounced as war crimes, rape has been downplayed as an unfortunate but inevitable side effect of sending men to war. It thus is ignored as a human rights abuse. It is seen as private, as a sexual conduct when it is political in war and should be treated as a war crime.
The capacity of girls and women to change the world for the better is curtailed by the intrusion of one man or men who disrupt their lives through the trauma that follows gender based violence. For some women, they bear the pain, trauma, humiliation and stigma and painstakingly try to go on with life. For many, however their lives are completely destroyed and some struggle to continue with life and opt to end their lives.
We must as a society stop making excuses for rape and gender based violence against women. We must stop excusing the perpetrators and blaming the victims for the sins of the perpetrators. We must return to some of our African cultural teachings that are relevant today and taught young men and women the responsibilities of adulthood, contributing to a community as responsible adults.
We must stop making excuses for the men who rape our children, girls and boys, and women. We must stop making excuses for the men who beat-up our girls and boys, and women.
It is an absolute shame to see men in leadership positions, who have been convicted of abusing women still being paraded around by the ruling party on women’s marches and presenting women’s issues alongside their ANC women leaders.
Is this not where the problems against women start? When women themselves condone and support men who have in law been found to be against the law? Manana is a convicted woman abuser. Why is the ANC tagging him along women’s events. He has, through his connections managed to evade the law, but why does he have to be the face of Gender Based Violence and label him as a legend!