Stand united to stop women abuse

Daily Dispatch - - Opinion -

THERE is noth­ing re­motely ex­cus­able about vi­o­lence against women any­where, at any time. Noth­ing. Let’s just be blunt about it. Crim­i­nal vi­o­lence against any­body is a pub­lic health prob­lem in epi­demic pro­por­tions. We see it in our streets, in our homes and in our com­mu­ni­ties. Vi­o­lence of any sort is an af­front to so­ci­ety, an abom­i­na­tion that is sim­ply un­ac­cept­able.

That is why many peo­ple across our coun­try have been de­bat­ing the pros and cons of the Na­tional Prose­cut­ing Au­thor­ity’s de­ci­sion not to pros­e­cute a mother, known as the “War­rior Woman or War­rior Mama” in her com­mu­nity, who was ac­cused of mur­der­ing and at­tempt­ing to mur­der three men who al­legedly raped her daugh­ter in a Lady Frere vil­lage.

The mother said when she was in­formed that three men were rap­ing her daugh­ter, she called the po­lice, but when they did not an­swer, she took a kitchen knife and went to the house where her daugh­ter was be­ing raped.

She stabbed the three men, and one of them died.

Ac­cord­ing to the com­mu­nity, all three men were no­to­ri­ous trou­ble­mak­ers in the vil­lage. The NPA has said it does not want to get into the de­tails of the ev­i­dence, but it does not con­done a sit­u­a­tion where peo­ple take the law into their own hands.

The truth is vi­o­lence, is vi­o­lence, is vi­o­lence.

And one life lost to vi­o­lence is such a hor­ri­ble thing.

We know stop­ping vi­o­lence against women re­quires strong, co­or­di­nated ac­tion by our com­mu­ni­ties. There­fore, it is im­por­tant that our com­mu­ni­ties across the prov­ince have an ab­so­lute re­solve that our sis­ters, moth­ers and ev­ery­one are lib­er­ated from the scourge of vi­o­lence.

All of us need to stand up and say, “Stop the vi­o­lence”.

We are tired of the vi­o­lence. I’ve seen many cul­tures, in­clud­ing my own, seek to jus­tify this over many, many years; many decades and many cen­turies. It sim­ply doesn’t stand up to rea­son. It is – un­der all cir­cum­stances plainly wrong.

I don’t claim to have a master plan that will solve the prob­lem, but we’re com­ing to­gether to sym­bol­ise our unity against vi­o­lence.

Ex­perts say vi­o­lence against women is not con­fined to a spe­cific cul­ture, re­gion or coun­try, or to par­tic­u­lar groups of women within a so­ci­ety. Rather, its roots lie in his­tor­i­cally un­equal power re­la­tions be­tween men and women, and per­sis­tent dis­crim­i­na­tion against women.

And it takes many forms, rang­ing from rape to phys­i­cal beat­ings, dowry mur­der and sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

That is why vi­o­lence against women is a ma­jor pub­lic health is­sue – and ev­ery­one has an im­por­tant role to play in stop­ping it.

We should all be in­ter­ested in how we bring about mea­sur­able, de­fin­able, real so­cial change, and how to un­leash life’s full op­por­tu­ni­ties for women and girls across our beloved Rain­bow Na­tion. Here’s how we can all help end the scourge of vi­o­lence in our com­mu­ni­ties:

Take the pledge to be part of the so­lu­tion of end­ing vi­o­lence;

Start the con­ver­sa­tion with your fam­ily, neigh­bours and co­work­ers about cre­at­ing healthy and eq­ui­table re­la­tion­ships, re­spect­ing boundaries, and end­ing vi­o­lence;

Preven­tion ef­forts should start early by pro­mot­ing healthy, re­spect­ful re­la­tion­ships, ad­dress­ing the be­liefs, at­ti­tudes and mes­sages that cre­ate a cli­mate that con­dones sex­ual vi­o­lence;

Change so­ci­etal at­ti­tudes and be­liefs that per­pet­u­ate and make ex­cuses for vi­o­lence, par­tic­u­larly against women;

Pro­mote safety and re­spect in all sit­u­a­tions;

Have the church play a greater role in com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives;

Place a greater em­pha­sis on fam­ily struc­ture in the com­mu­nity through ed­u­ca­tion, and cre­ate pro­grammes to steer youths away from the streets;

Build a net­work of re­sound­ing voices that sup­port and ad­vance and pro­mote the safety, lib­erty and dig­nity of all of us; and

Work hard to im­prove safety in our com­mu­ni­ties by re­port­ing crime to the po­lice and, if we are not happy with the ser­vice, lodg­ing for­mal com­plaints with po­lice man­age­ment, the In­de­pen­dent Com­plaints Direc­torate (ICD) or other struc­tures.

Lo­cal, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence clearly demon­strates that ad­dress­ing crime re­quires the con­sis­tent ap­pli­ca­tion of ap­pro­pri­ate, longterm strate­gies. It is very im­por­tant for peo­ple to re­alise that there are no “quick fixes”.

In­deed, although re­duc­ing crime is an ob­vi­ous gov­ern­ment re­spon­si­bil­ity, it will ul­ti­mately only be de­ci­sively beaten if we all be­come in­volved.

Here is what the gov­ern­ment of the Eastern Cape is do­ing to re­duce crime.

Im­prov­ing the qual­ity of polic­ing;

Pro­mot­ing ef­fec­tive so­cial crime preven­tion ini­tia­tives;

Strength­en­ing in­sti­tu­tional ar­range­ments to bet­ter un­der­stand and re­spond to crime in an in­te­grated man­ner; and

En­cour­ag­ing com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion in crime re­duc­tion.

It is in­cum­bent on all of us to be role mod­els for the kind of at­ti­tudes and be­hav­iour that will ben­e­fit us all.

If we are united, be­tween men and women, among gov­ern­ment lead­ers, busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties and civil so­ci­ety lead­ers I think there will be noth­ing which we can­not over­come. There will be noth­ing which will stand in our way to achieve a sit­u­a­tion where not only women can live with­out any fear of vi­o­lence, but ev­ery cit­i­zen.

Phu­mulo Ma­su­alle is pre­mier of the Eastern Cape prov­ince. Fol­low him on @EC_ Pre­mier and on Face­book at Mas­in­cokole.

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