The Space Between: Violence against women plagues SA
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Johannesburg - The scourge of gender-based violence requires all of us to play our part.
The sad reality for us is that it has become abundantly clear that the scourge of gender-based violence will continue to plague this country for a long time. It is the reality that we need to face and live with.
There were many major developments in the country this week. But it is the news reports on cases of gender-based violence that caught my attention. The brutality in which these incidents are committed makes it difficult to ignore. It has become difficult and shameful to watch the local television news bulletins lately.
Reports on rape, assault and murder of women have been a regular occurrence. It is abundantly clear that the men of our country have declared war on the women. Perhaps a stark reminder why men are often labelled trash. The scourge of gender-based violence in South African tells a sorry tale.
A lot of variables are at play. Alcohol abuse, gender inequalities and the patriarchal society we live in.
Parenting is also certainly under scrutiny. It is perhaps the way we groom young boys and men as a nation that needs complete reconsideration. They must be taught to treat women with love and compassion. And perhaps our prison population correctly justifies it because it is men who make up most of those behind bars.
It’s unfathomable that in a country that is grappling with serious socio-economic conditions, the government is forced to allocate a considerable amount from its coffers to the various interventions aimed to fight the scourge of gender-based violence. Money that ideally should be used to alleviate the plight of our people who are stuck in the trenches of abject poverty. Statistics South Africa revealed this week that the rate of unemployment in the country surged to 34.4.% in the second quarter from 32.6% in the three through March. The sad reality about is that 7.8 million people are jobless in the country. This is the highest unemployment rate recorded since 2008. Ideally the government should be directing resources and capital investment at this challenge to alleviate the plight our people.
Sadly, for some the severity of the scourge of gender-based violence remains implausible. In their view these are just statistics that the government keeps harping on about in the media. They cannot relate to reality. The reality is that women and children in this country are in dire need of help. The number of reported cases and incidents we witness regularly suggest that South Africa is an unsafe place for women. The statistics are alarming and paint an ugly picture of a society in which it has become normative for men to abuse women.
This struggle has manifested itself in different ways in our communities and we should all be concerned. This violence against women is a major human rights violation. The reality is that there are many cases that are not reported for various reasons. Some are battling with lower socio-economic status and are dependent on the perpetrators. Therefore, they have fewer options and less resources at their disposal to avoid or escape abusive situations and to seek justice. In other instances, victims of gender-based violence are afraid to go to police stations to report their cases due to the patriarchal attitudes of some police officials.
The reality is that we should work collaboratively toward the eradication of gender-based violence in the country. It is us who know the victims and perpetrators because some of them live in our neighbourhood. Unfortunately, keeping mum will not help our cause in dealing with this scourge.
Importantly, we should encourage those who are in abusive relationships to break the silence against it so that they can receive assistance.
Morwane writes in his personal capacity.