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ISSUE NO. 01 DECEMBER 2021Gender Based ViolenceWritten by: Keagan Mattison An average of seven murders a day.Tshegofatso Pule was eight months pregnant when she was murdered and her body hung from a tree. 23 year old, Nosicelo Mtebeni's, dismembered body was found in black bags and a suitcase. She was a 4th year law student at Fort Hare University. 19 year old University of Cape Town student, Uyinene Mrwetyana, was raped and murdered by a worker at a post office in Claremont. Shongile Pretty Nkwashu (25) and an intern doctor at the Mankweng Hospital was strangled with her own stethoscope by her boyfriend. Karabo Mokoena became another face of South Africa’s gender-based violence epidemic. She was killed and her body burned beyond recognition, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend. People remember these gruesome cases that end up on newspapers’ front pages. These women’s stories come with a flare up of societal outrage, protest and collective introspection. Then South Africans live in hope for a while, believing that this time something might change. But nothing does in a country marked by unusually high levels of rape and femicide.
There is little fluctuation in these statistics, which are reported annually by the South African Police Services. What this means is that without political will, a change in the sensationalism and narratives around the reporting of gender based violence and men’s greater involvement as allies with women when it comes to gender based violence, nothing will change. It is clear remarks like “all rapists must rot in jail” that the governing African National Congress (ANC) sees higher incarceration rates as the solution to rape and femicide. Its members’ oft-repeated cry of “rot in jail” also suggests that rehabilitation is not viewed as a priority. The problem is that this response individualises the challenge of violence. It focuses on individual perpetrators without attempting to understand the very complex social conditions in South Africa that contribute to men’s violent behaviour. These conditions include colonial and apartheid histories of violence, endemic poverty, substance abuse, deeply held patriarchal attitudes about women’s place in society and the emasculation of unemployment when men measure their worth through work, or an absence of it.
16 Days of Activism stand as the pivot of our government’s extensive 365 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign. During this time, civil society, government officials and the private sector are committed to holding a sequence of critical community and sector conversations, and eye-opening movements, geared towards fostering a collaborative effort in dealing with GBV. Many companies have come to the battle lines to action change and societal transformation, in hopes of shaping a safer future for the women and children of our nation:
During this year’s 16 Days of Activism, Aura will guarantee the readiness of 1 000 responders for the TEARS Foundation to aid them in their attempt to provide access to crisis intervention, advocacy, counselling, and prevention education services for people who have been impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse.
Mining industry leader, Anglo American, has committed to initiating robust steps towards remedying gender-based violence (GBV), presenting extensive measures for tackling GBV and harassment within its mines and larger mining communities across South Africa.
Sibanye Stillwater was included in the Bloomberg 2020 Gender-Equality Index in recognition of their efforts to improve gender equality and diversity. One of their major focuses for combating GBV in the workplace, is their sexual harassment policy.
The Vodacom Foundation announced the launch of a free cutting-edge mobile app. The apps features include a short questionnaire to aid users in identifying different types of abuse and the types of support mechanisms that are available to them. Bright Sky SA gives the user info on GBV, including various statistics and case studies.
As of 25 November, Unilever decided to completely readdress its digital and traditional advertising spend of 24 Unilever brands to its collaboration with People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) organisation. By using the combined relayed power of all of these other brands, Unilever pledged its commitment to #enddomesticsilence and adds its voice in support of the initiative.
These issues all beg for solutions on a collective level. Without that sort of intervention, GBV will continue unabated. Brutality may capture people’s attention, but a lot of discussion in South Africa is devoid of contextual analysis. Men will have to speak out to other men who are contributing to rape culture. Gender based violence will only diminish if men and women unite to fight against it. Men have an important role to play in this struggle. They must start to address other men’s perceptions and stereotypes about women’s sexuality. Without intervention, the problem of sexual violence will not stop. Karabo Mokoena’s name will be joined by hundreds more on a never-ending list of loss and brutality.