Like many of us this week, I’m devastated at the senseless deaths of so many women in our country…
Last month my 17-year-old daughter was VERY lucky to tour with her province’s youth choir to Europe and she fell in love with her first taste of freedom: the freedom to get on a train alone and go to an art exhibition, the freedom to walk from her hotel to the supermarket to buy fruit – a freedom that she doesn’t have at home in South Africa…
Of course 17-year-olds DO walk alone on the streets of SA, they take public transport, and many shop for the family groceries (and even raise families on their own). I’m not naïve – or stupid – and I know that my daughter’s privileged upbringing means that she has been protected from having to walk the streets at night, or have to use overcrowded, un-roadworthy taxis because she has no other choice.
In every country in the world, women know that it’s silly to walk alone at night, to get into cars with strangers… but here in South Africa, many women don’t have a choice. Women in this country have to play Russian Roulette with their lives every day, but do their best to protect themselves and their daughters – by trying to walk together in groups, avoiding getting into cars or taxis when they are the only female – wherever and whenever possible…
But going to collect a parcel at the post office at 19 is not stupid. And neither is being taken to school by your mom as a six year-old. These female South Africans should not have been in danger. These are everyday routine events that girls and women should be able to take for granted. And South African men have robbed us of that freedom.
This is not an anti-men rant
The majority of men are kind, gentle husbands and fathers who dedicate their lives to protect the women in their households.
But what about the others? Why do we have one of the highest rape rates in the world? Why is a woman killed every three hours in South Africa? (According to the most recent SA Police data available, from 2017/18, a woman is murdered every three hours in South Africa.)
It’s not about increasing security forces Mr President. It’s about changing the way these men think
Listening to the radio this morning I heard a male declare that we have to take action and find a solution to this scourge of violence against women. He suggested that we talk to church leaders and get them to preach to congregations that men and women are equal and should be given equal respect in households. Wifely subjection should not be allowed in the 21st century.
Before you shoot the messenger (if you don’t agree with this statement), please note that these are not my words. And not the simple solution to all our problems But this certainly should be food for thought. We need to look at what makes these violent criminals feel that they are superior to women, that they can silence women with their fists, and that they can violate our bodies, and get away with it?
What part does history, and culture – and even religion – play in this culture of gender violence? We can march in anger, we can arm ourselves with guns, we can lock ourselves in our homes at night, but if we don’t try to get into the minds of the men who feel that they have the right to do this to us, then how can we even begin to fix this sickness?
My daughter deserves to feel safe in this country. And so does yours. What are you doing to make sure #SheWontBeNext?
We can march. We can light candles. We can carry pepper spray, walk in groups, watch our drinks, dress modestly, tell everyone where we are going but it means nothing. We are not dying. We are being killed by men. Violence against women is a men’s issue @GovernmentZA. #Uyinene pic.twitter.com/TPqyhpTY9S
— Mail & Guardian (@mailandguardian) September 2, 2019