Fight against abuse is for us all

Go! & Express - - Scene On The Go! -

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)

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