Time up for abusers

Grocott's Mail - - MAKANA VOICES -

It’s Women’s Month for Au­gust but the last two weeks have not been all smooth-sail­ing.

There have been sev­eral high pro­file cases of women at the wrong end of beat­ings. There was Man­disa Duma and her cousin who were roughed up by Deputy Higher Education Min­is­ter Mduduzi Manana over a po­lit­i­cal ar­gu­ment.

Then came So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dh­lamini who ap­peared to ghet­toise the is­sue of vi­o­lence against women, by say­ing that other men have done worse things to women, and there­fore, Manana should be left alone.

There have been sev­eral cases of men mur­der­ing spouses and girl­friends, in­clud­ing the tragic slay­ing of 30-year old Kate Chiloane, a Mpumalanga pri­mary school teacher, by her gun-tot­ing hus­band—right in front of her charges. It does not mat­ter to us the man later killed him­self.

Then came the case of Grace Mu­gabe, who was in the coun­try for treat­ment to her foot, but who found enough time to badly as­sault a young model she found with her two sons at a Jo­han­nes­burg ho­tel. The model, 20-year old Gabriella En­gels was left with a deep head wound.

On Wed­nes­day, 52-year-old Ntombi­zonke Pa­tri­cia Dy­wili was shot dead in Port El­iz­a­beth as she left for work, in what ap­peared like a con­tract hit. The SAPS in Port El­iz­a­beth be­lieve that the dead woman wit­nessed the fa­tal shoot­ing of a neigh­bour last Satur­day.

Here in Gra­ham­stown pro­test­ers gath­ered out­side court after a woman was found dead and her body burned, in a ditch. Her boyfriend faces a mur­der charge.

It is im­por­tant for us, to first re­mem­ber the vic­tims of this wan­ton vi­o­lence by re­peat­ing their names again and again. The fe­male vic­tims of vi­o­lence, who choose to go pub­lic, also lessen the stigma as­so­ci­ated with be­ing abused. It is not right for any­one to feel ashamed of be­ing a vic­tim of abuse, but many women de­cline to press charges. Some do it be­cause their abusers are also the sole bread­win­ners; oth­ers fear even more vi­o­lence; and yet oth­ers worry about be­ing os­tracised in their com­mu­ni­ties where men of­ten have more so­cial cap­i­tal.

Groups like the ANC Women’s League harm their cause when their lead­ers waf­fle over the is­sue of women’s abuse. In the case of Deputy Min­is­ter Manana for ex­am­ple, it does not mat­ter how many other men have beaten up their wives or girl­friends, his mere ad­mis­sion to the as­sault should have led to his in­stant dis­missal from gov­ern­ment. Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula can claim that Manana is ‘in­no­cent un­til proven guilty’ all he likes, but all Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma needs is a con­fes­sion from this man, to fire him.

When men – es­pe­cially those in power – start to feel some real con­se­quences for their thug­gish be­hav­iour to­wards women, they will start re­form­ing their ways.

Har­mony be­tween men and women is es­sen­tial. But first, prospec­tive abusers must be ter­ri­fied of ever touch­ing a woman.


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