Far stronger action needed to root out women abuse
Women’s Month — the month of August meant to celebrate women in South Africa.
It started as a tribute for the thousands of women who marched to the Union Buildings on August 9 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women, and morphed into an entire month celebrating the role of women in society.
But every year, it becomes apparent that there is very little to celebrate as women are still battling many challenges — patriarchy, oppression, abuse, rape. The list is endless.
Some women survive, but many do not and wind up as mere statistics.
In this newspaper today, we tell some of their stories to show that they are (in some cases were) more than a number on a sheet, more than a mere statistic.
We tell you the story of a businesswoman who was raped and shot by an intruder. So scarred by the incident, her family has sold their family home to emigrate to Australia.
Another woman was gang-raped while walking along the beach, the perpetrators never found and she now lives in fear whenever a stranger looks at her.
We tell you the story of a doctor who was shot by her estranged husband, in the month of August.
These women have survived to tell their stories, their lived experiences.
Sadly, others like Shenice Jonathan have not. She was maimed, stabbed and dumped on the side of the road.
No-one has been arrested for her murder.
It is no secret that we have a major gender-based violence problem in SA. Some have likened it to an epidemic.
This was driven home by the fact that one week into the nationwide lockdown, more than 87,000 cases of gender-based violence were reported in SA.
And those are just the ones that are reported. There are probably 87,000 more who could not report it or feared doing so.
So, what do we do about it?
It requires collective action, from communities, security structures and the police working hand-in-hand.
It also requires harsher sentences to send a strong message to the perpetrators.
At this newspaper, we commit to telling the stories in the hope of spurring action, the kind of action needed to once and for all root out the scourge of gender-based violence.
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