Vi­o­lence against women on the rise – ac­tivists

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - OKUHLE HLATI SIBAHLE SKOMOLO

VI­O­LENCE against women has reached epi­demic pro­por­tions and Women’s Day or 16 Days of Ac­tivism are do­ing noth­ing to curb it.

Gen­der ac­tivists and re­searchers are de­plor­ing vi­o­lence against women ahead of Women’s Day on Wed­nes­day, partly blam­ing a lack of po­lit­i­cal will and lead­er­ship for the in­crease in the scourge.

“Women’s Month is not mak­ing a big dif­fer­ence and is not enough. The men­tal­ity and at­ti­tude we have on Women’s Day and 16 Days of Ac­tivism must also be vis­i­ble ev­ery day be­cause more can be done to raise aware­ness. The gov­ern­ment is sadly lack­ing.

“We have great laws but no im­ple­men­ta­tion and the ju­di­ciary has a back­log of cases and does not treat vic­tims with sen­si­tiv­ity,” said Dr Elis­a­bet le Roux, re­search di­rec­tor at the Unit for Re­li­gion and De­vel­op­ment Re­search at Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity.

Sonke Gen­der Jus­tice se­nior strate­gic ad­viser, Bafana Khu­malo, said vi­o­lence against women was in­creas­ing ev­ery year and it re­ceived re­ports of women be­ing turned away at po­lice sta­tions when they wanted to re­port vi­o­lence against them.

Sha­heema McLeod, di­rec­tor at the Saartjie Baart­man Cen­tre, said the rates of vi­o­lence against women “re­main alarm­ingly and un­ac­cept­ably high”.

“This isn’t a prob­lem that should get our at­ten­tion (on) only 16 Days or be spo­ken about in one month out of 12. It’s a cri­sis all year round.

“A cul­ture of gen­der-based vi­o­lence pre­vails, re­sult­ing in poor sup­port struc­tures, low con­vic­tion rates and even lower num­bers of vic­tims con­fi­dent enough in the legal sys­tem to come for­ward.”

Re­search chair­per­son for his­tor­i­cal trauma and transformation at the Univer­sity of Stel­len­bosch, Pro­fes­sor Pamela Go­bodo Madik­izela, said per­pe­tra­tors were get­ting younger.

“We have also ob­served the ages in gen­der-based vi­o­lence cases and pro­files. It’s be­com­ing younger. It makes you sit up and ques­tion what is re­ally go­ing on in our coun­try.

“In Fish Hoek, a 19-yearold raped and killed a woman way older than him. So­cial con­struc­tions of man­hood also play a role in driv­ing gen­der­based vi­o­lence.

“When a boy starts be­hav­ing badly, in­stead of deal­ing with the root of the prob­lem, they are sent to the moun­tain as they will re­turn as a man. This doesn’t help as the ma­jor­ity be­come worse be­cause they are men now and have the power to do what they want.”

She said cel­e­brat­ing Women’s Month was of his­tor­i­cal im­por­tance.

“Cel­e­brat­ing Women’s Month is done ev­ery year and, yes, it is im­por­tant as the brave women in 1956 marched and left a mark.

“Dur­ing this an­niver­sary we need to ask our­selves: Do cam­paigns like 16 Days of Ac­tivism and Women’s Day con­trib­ute to the preven­tion of vi­o­lence against women? Yes, we are given the plat­form to raise aware­ness but do they curb the ac­tual in­ci­dents?

“Marches and pick­ets that are done ev­ery week are not go­ing to do it. We need to ask our­selves: ‘Why can’t the pick­ets and marches we do today leave a mark like the 1956 march?’”

We have great laws but no im­ple­men­ta­tion

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