Ram­pant pa­tri­archy strikes again. And again

Sunday Times - - Opinion -

This week Sandile Mantsoe was sen­tenced to an ef­fec­tive 32 years be­hind bars for mur­der­ing Karabo Mokoena and burn­ing her body. Pi­eter van Ton­der will spend an in­def­i­nite pe­riod in jail for the sav­age mur­der of his ex-girl­friend’s baby. And Tha­bani Mzolo ap­peared in court on sus­pi­cion of mur­der­ing his ex-girl­friend — af­ter post­ing a con­fes­sion on Face­book. In other words, a fairly un­re­mark­able week for women and chil­dren who live with the bru­tal con­se­quences of ram­pant pa­tri­archy in South Africa. A woman is mur­dered ev­ery four hours in this coun­try, ev­ery other one by an in­ti­mate part­ner. This is four to five times the global rate. When we con­sider that vi­o­lence against women and chil­dren of­ten hap­pens in the same fam­i­lies, we have the recipe for a self­per­pet­u­at­ing cy­cle of vi­o­lence.

South Africa has good leg­is­la­tion to deal with do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and sex­ual of­fences. Gun con­trol has had a pos­i­tive im­pact on the over­all mur­der rate. Po­lice re­sources have been boosted. Yet in­ti­mate-part­ner vi­o­lence re­mains in­tractable.

The de­mean­ing af­ter­life of apartheid and en­trenched pa­tri­ar­chal at­ti­tudes to women have led to a so­ci­ety that ac­cepts vi­o­lence against women and chil­dren as nor­mal. Poverty, al­co­hol abuse and lower lev­els of ed­u­ca­tion fea­ture fre­quently in stud­ies of in­ter­per­sonal con­flict, as do in­fi­delity and eco­nomic in­equal­ity be­tween cou­ples. Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence usu­ally hap­pens in pri­vate, and is of­ten not even viewed as a crime.

Some promis­ing stud­ies have iden­ti­fied fac­tors that can help lessen the lev­els of vi­o­lence, such as bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion among women, school in­ter­ven­tions and im­prove­ments in women’s so­cioe­co­nomic sta­tus or fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence.

Fo­cus­ing on ed­u­cat­ing and em­pow­er­ing women and girls has been sug­gested as a so­lu­tion to many other stub­born so­cial prob­lems too: more ed­u­ca­tion for girls cor­re­lates with a fall in in­fant mor­tal­ity, bet­ter fam­ily plan­ning and bet­ter-ed­u­cated chil­dren. Fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence makes it pos­si­ble for women to par­tic­i­pate in de­ci­sions for them­selves and their fam­i­lies — not the least of these be­ing able to es­cape abu­sive hus­bands who con­trol them through fi­nan­cial de­pen­dence.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.