Fight against abuse is for us all
WOMEN’S Month in August is now over and the headlines in newspapers and on social media bled with stories of violence against women and girls.
High-profile politicians such as the recently resigned deputy minister of education (still an MP) whom we saw hitting a woman on social media, Zimbabwe’s first lady, who allegedly attacked a young woman with an extension cord, a white man in the Spur incident and the angry schoolboy from KZN seen on social media kicking a female pupil, all drew our attention to the physical abuse that has recently been metered out towards women.
These individuals represent a cross-section of an abusive society.
Consider for a moment the power differential between the perpetrators and the victims.
Those inflicting the violence are in a more powerful position either in terms of physical strength or social power. They hold themselves untouchable, with a right to inflict the violence they see fit to inflict.
Each year, we pay tribute to the thousands of women who on August 9 1956 marched defiantly to the Union Buildings in protest against the extension of the pass laws to black women.
We proudly remember these valiant and courageous women. By extension we need to consider and remember the women of today who fight a daily battle for their and their children’s existence, facing a constant threat of physical and psychological violence.
When we commemorate the bravery of our women heroes of the past, we are immediately struck by how much more activism still needs to be done in advancing woman’s rights and feminist values within our very violent society.
We must become conscience-‘tised’ with the imperative of re-embedding these values into the fabric of our society. The values of dignity, empowerment, equality, inclusiveness and safety are there to serve us all and can never be the preserve of only the wealthy, the strong or the political elite.
Who within our communities has the duty to be the voice-piece for positive change? It cannot be the lone struggle of women affected by the scourge of domestic violence, rape, sexism and gender inequality.
The weakest and most vulnerable cannot alone be the ones who must champion their own cause, while simultaneously trying to keep body and soul together. To view violence against women as mainly a women’s issue is to miss the point and trivialise it.
Men, as a collective, it is time to do your part. All men. Stand up. Be a voice together with women for those women who are not heard.
Be part of a rising voice for the women who are degraded, who are rendered nameless and reduced to a number within a statistical category.
Hold people, both men and women accountable for their actions and behaviour towards others.
Those people whose lived experience is of non-violence, are not absolved. Take a stand. To say nothing and to do nothing allows the abuse to continue and to become normalised within our communities, our schools and our sports clubs.
Masithethe Counselling Services is a Victim Empowerment Centre which assists victims of violence with counselling, trauma support and a support group. Our rape and domestic violence support group is held on the first Thursday of the month at 11am at the centre at 3 St James Road in Southernwood. Call (043)722-2000 or 084-091-5410. Samantha Corbett, Masithethe Counselling
Services (formerly Lifeline/Childline)