EDITORIAL: Why we're not working today

For decades, South African women have been crying out for help. We have been pleading for the war against us to end.

We have begged the country and those who lead it to not only hear our desperate cries, to give us more than a day and statements of condemnation, but to do something.

Remember Gugu Dlamini, who was kicked, beaten and stoned to death by a group of men outside a KwaMashu shebeen? She was killed in 1998 because she dared reveal her HIV status.

Remember nine-month-old baby Tshepang, who was raped by her teenage mother’s ex-boyfriend, David Potse, in 2001?

Remember Constable Frances Rasuge, who was killed by her boyfriend, William Nkuna, in 2004? Her body was found eight years later, between cement slabs with her hands bound with duct tape.

Remember Anene Booysen? In 2013 she was raped, beaten up, her fingers and legs broken and her throat slit with broken glass? She was discovered by a security guard gasping for life after she was disembowelled in Bredasdorp in Western Cape.

Remember Duduzile Zozo, who was found dead in 2013, half-naked with a toilet brush jammed into her vagina in Thokoza? She was the victim of a “corrective” rape and murder.

Remember Karabo Mokoena? In 2017, she was killed and set alight by her boyfriend, Sandile Mantsoe. He took her body from his apartment, bought petrol, picked up tyres and pool acid from his mother’s house, and then set the 22-year-old alight and walked away.

We ask if you remember because it seems people choose to forget the brutality of men on the women of this country until the next barbaric act. The alarming figures of rape and abuse of women tell us this is an every-second occurrence.

Women have been so desperate for action. We have taken to the streets and marched naked. We have worn black on Fridays. We have shut down the country.

People demanded we speak out. We did. We have relived the horrors of our lives at the hands of men, laid bare our pain and our fear, relived it all and even forced the president to take a day out of his busy schedule to listen.

People demanded we be careful, and we have done so.

We have limited our own freedom by reporting our movements, sharing our locations, shouting at friends who switch off their phones instead of reporting they're safe, and stayed away from strangers.

People have demanded that we stop wearing revealing clothes that "tempt" our tormentors, and we have done it. We go out in groups, we pack a change of clothes just in case it's unsafe to go home alone, we wear stockings under the mini-skirts, we take a second look in mirrors and ask ourselves: "Will what I am wearing make me a target?"

But despite all our efforts, we are still murdered, raped and beaten by strangers, our husbands, colleagues, friends, brothers and uncles. Our only crime is being women among violent men.

What should be an ordinary action such as going to the Post Office to enquire about a parcel will get you brutally murdered by a stranger who feels entitled to your body.

It turns out you are not irrational when you panic because the father of your kids has collected them from school because, actually, he can kill them. By hanging them.

You could find the strength to finally leave an abusive relationship and go to the police to report your tormentor and police tell you: “At your age, go home and talk it through”.

If the police don’t turn you away and actually help you obtain a protection order against your abuser, it is not enough. He can still find you and kill you.

This is the reality for South Africa's women. Ordinary actions can get you murdered. We are not free.

Today (Friday), under our purpose-led brand LeadSA, you will hear no women's voices on 702, Cape Talk and Eyewitness News. This is our statement - we are withdrawing our labour in another desperate attempt for men to see and feel the impact of gender-based violence.

This is a temporary measure implemented in the spirit of solidarity with all the nationwide marches, vigils and memorials organised this month. Our women hosts, journalists and producers will be absent from their posts for a day as part of a symbolic gesture to represent a society and work environment devoid of the feminine.

If women continue to be killed, this is what we all face. Fortunately, we will return, unlike the thousands of murdered women who will never be able to do so.

The men of Primedia Broadcasting, who are in the minority, have committed to the cause and agreed to steering the ship in solidarity, working over-time and taking up extended roles.

We want to know: why do men get away with their actions even when we report their crimes, which also threaten the future of this country?

Lawyers Against Abuse say research shows that a perpetrator is arrested in only 58% of reported rape cases, only 18.5% of these cases ever go to trial, and only 8.6% of these cases end in a conviction. Where is the urgency? Where are the specialised courts?

In his address to the nation on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa promised 11 Sexual Offences Courts would be opened this year “to improve conviction rates and provide comprehensive and appropriate support services to ensure survivors of sexual offences are not subject to further trauma”.

Through LeadSA, Primedia Broadcasting will be advocating for more specialised courts to be created to ensure women have a safe space to demand justice and accelerate the rate of convictions.


This article first appeared on EWN : EDITORIAL: Why we're not working today


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