Op­por­tu­nity missed to im­prove women’s plight

SA should do bet­ter to end gen­der-based violence

Sunday World - - Viewpoint - OPIN­ION Ler­ato Mo­goatlhe Mo­goatlhe is a free­lance jour­nal­ist .

We know by now that Women’s Month cel­e­bra­tions are just an­other way in which com­pa­nies, in­sti­tu­tions and the gov­ern­ment blow hot air in­stead of com­mit­ting to de­ci­sive ac­tions to ad­dress gen­der in­equal­ity and gen­der-based violence.

How­ever, this Women’s Month is par­tic­u­larly shock­ing – even by South African stan­dards, which pays black women sig­nif­i­cantly less money com­pared to women of other races. But this is not what keeps one up at night won­der­ing if I will sur­vive an­other day as a black woman in South Africa.

The daily threat of violence against us in­creases, turn­ing us into mov­ing tar­gets for rapes, as­saults and death at the hands of hus­band and boyfriends.

In­stead of Women’s Month turn­ing into a month of re­flec­tion and ac­tion by the pow­ers that be, it was used to mock us once again.

It’s al­most as if in­sti­tu­tions and politi­cians are tired of pre­tend­ing to care.

Take #TheTo­talShutDown march against gen­der-based violence by thou­sands of women in eight prov­inces on the first day of Au­gust. While Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa re­ceived the mem­o­ran­dum at the Union Buildings, or­gan­is­ers were charged with in­tim­i­dat­ing the pres­i­dent.

The charges were dropped but the law made its point – we must con­front power at our own peril.

It’s in­cred­i­bly dis­turb­ing that the law is used to in­tim­i­date and si­lence women in­stead of turn­ing its might to men who have turned one in three women to be­come po­ten­tial rape vic­tims. The law should fo­cus on those who kill women.

The prob­lem, ap­par­ently, is not that femi­cide is one of the lead­ing causes of death among SA­women or that our schools and in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing have be­come plagued by rape and violence to­wards women and girls.

We are the prob­lem for say­ing enough is enough.

Is it any won­der the likes of Mduduzi Manana can beat up women and con­tinue with his life undis­turbed by his ac­tions to be re­warded with an in­vi­ta­tion to ad­dress vic­tims of violence? That our film in­dus­try re­mains silent about rape al­le­ga­tions against Khalo Mata­bane, and that Arthur Mafokate keeps get­ting booked af­ter at­tack­ing Cici?

And what about play­ing the song by con­victed rapist, Brickz, at lo­cal foot­ball matches af­ter he was found guilty of rap­ing his 16-yearold rel­a­tive.

South Africa needs to do bet­ter, and it should start with the law and the pres­i­dent. Af­ter all, his Thuma Mina slo­gan is bor­rowed from a song with lyrics that say: “I wanna be there for the vic­tims of violence and abuse/ I wanna lend a hand/ Send me.”

We are tired of our bod­ies be­ing turned into crime scenes.

/ Wi n M c N a m e e / G e t t y I m a g e s

The writer says South Africa’s econ­omy is not im­mune to US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s mis­guided pro­tec­tion­ist tar­iffs on steel and alu­minium that he has uni­lat­er­ally im­posed.

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