It has been 13 years since I experienced a brutal killing in my backyard, yet I still have lots of questions; Why? What? How? It is disturbing.
As women we are not safe at all. Losing someone you dearly loved is not easy to deal with, psychologically it stays with the family for the rest of their lives. We continue to ask ourselves unanswerable questions. Yes, I was glad Karabo Mokoena’s family finally got justice in the eyes of the law, but did they really get “justice” in their own lives? Her memories will forever live with them; they are unable to touch, physically talk with her, joke, laugh, take family trips because she is not coming back, as with the other women whose lives have been taken due to lack of respect for humanity, and right to life. A right protected by the Constitution, and Bill of Rights of this country, yet a right seldom protected and often violated by partners, families, and institutions.
“It takes a village for a victim to speak up”, yet even when those victims get the courage to speak, we just brush it off and we do nothing. Is it because of lack of trust or resources? Do we have the means to really stop this war on women’s bodies? Can we put proper strategies to that? Is government ready to do something to intervene?
In the recent months, South Africa has seen a rise in violence targeting women and children. This violence is not new, although more visible in the growing age of social media. BUT it is time that this violence stops!
Women and Children are dying in the hands of their loved ones.
Being a woman in South Africa in 2018 has been hard. Lately we have seen a lot of women: grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts and girl children being killed by the people in positions of ‘loving’ and ‘protecting’ them. Yet, we see everywhere the ways in which they are humiliated, abused, insulted, and murdered daily.
In 2017, The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) published “Violence Against Women: A Country in Crisis,” the study that Violence against Women (VAW) in South Africa is a problem that remains overlooked especially by State Institutions. Less than a year post the report, South Africa continues to lose women to Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), or femicide, as it is now called.
After the report, during 16 Days of Activism, CSVR initiated the campaign #ENDVAWNOW #EverydayPerpetrators, a social media campaign that highlighted the ways in which many institutions, public and private, perpetuate the ways in which women are violated.
Soon, we too would forget and move on to 2018. It feels like the life of a woman is not important, easily forgotten.
In May this year, a viral video of Sandile Mantsoe discarding the body of Karabo Mokoena surfaced on social media. What of her family and healing? These acts have become our daily bread and this is unacceptable. It has become unbearable, leaving irreversible harms. Families continue to lose their loved ones. The country has a growing concern of women stating that perpetrators serve short sentences.
2018 is also the year of the Mandela Centenary. Nelson Mandela once said:
As we continue to remember and commemorate the legacy of Mandela, it hit me how much violence we deal with on daily basis i.e. Violence against Women (VAW), and Violence against Children (VAC) is available every day on numerous media platforms.
Men watch and see us, as we beg them to ‘listen, the people you are killing are your breath givers, your lifelines, and your home-keepers, and they are strong, fiercely and fearlessly.’ Everyday, we plead with them all to refrain from cutting our lives short. Our children and families need us. Just love and embrace me, or just leave me alone, but DO NOT KILL ME!
Femicide, VAW, VAC has long-term effects on a family’s mental and physical health. If not dealt with, it can lead families to fester unhealed wounds – psychologically, and emotionally. As a country, and people with different communities, we should stop turning a blind eye on this VAW.
I urge and call upon our state to thoroughly put in place strategies and re-evaluate programmes on prevention and response, which can have an impact and reduction of GBV and VAW. “GBV is a human rights violation with major social and developmental impacts for survivors of violence, as well as their families, communities “as highlighted by Sonke Gender Justice in their 2016 August campaign with other NGOs. We, women and girls, (myself included) have to be given respect and appreciation.
Let us teach our young boys and men to respect, honour and appreciate women.