“Gender and institutionalism: towards strengthening the gender machinery”. This was the topic for the parliamentary debate on the severity of GBV in September 2019. Another virtual debate was held on 30 June this year and several more are expected. The women of South Africa however have grown tired of both abuse and debate!
All women suffer violence daily, regardless of their proximity to a fist. Little girls grow up in a world where being a target has been accepted as a norm. We have accepted that it is less safe for a woman than a man to walk around in their own neighbourhood. We have accepted that women put themselves at risk if they express their sexual identity. We have accepted that cat calling is a common thing and collectively ignored how it dehumanises young women or how sickened it can make them feel. There is an acceptance of violence towards women weaved into the fabric of our society, whether directly or indirectly; and we have had enough.
According to police statistics, 2,771 women were murdered between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019 as 30,626 rapes were reported alongside 136,870 assaults. StatsSA reported an increase in the murder rate of women by 117%, between 2015 and 2016/17. However, NTEU says enough of the violence, the parliamentary debates and political sweet-talk. The children of South Africa are watching us and will be shaped by how we respond to their mothers and sisters’ cries. Masculinity cannot be dependent on the abuse and ownership of a woman.
Enough! Kwanele! Genoeg!
We need to see better accountability and evidence handling with severe consequences when proper procedures aren’t followed or evidence “gets lost” or was mishandled. We need to fix a system that robs whatever little justice is left to victims and families. We need parliament to ratify C190 (Convention 190) which addresses our societal corrosion due to entrenched patriarchal cultures that enforce the idea that women are disproportionate to men, within the family, the community and society. C190 will impose greater accountability on government to ensure that justice reach those affected by violence and harassment and doing away with excuses. Ratifying C190 will convey to South Africa that government is taking this seriously.
NTEU promotes the value of “See something, say something, do something” when it comes to the treatment of women – whether it be in the workplace, the home or at the bus stop. For this is a crisis too wide for parliament and politicians alone. Join us on this Women’s Day by pledging your commitment to speak up and act, when you see something you know in your heart is wrong.
(NTEU NEC Social Justice)
(NTEU NMO & FEDUSA VC - Development)