Guest Column

Dear women of SA: We are on our own

2017-05-19 09:00

Dear women of South Africa,

We are on our own. Nobody is coming to protect us from being murdered, burnt and raped. Politicians are hypocrites who only pitch up for the photo opportunity.

They will not protect us. They will sit in the front row of our memorial service, scream outrage, condemn violence against women and children, but they will do nothing.

Before Karabo Mokoena, 22, was murdered, burnt and left like a piece of trash, there was Stacha Arends, 11. Before her Franziska Blöchliger, 13, before her Reeva Steenkamp, 29, before her Anene Booysens, 17, and so it goes, on and on and on...

Our husbands, fathers and brothers can’t protect us either, not because they won’t, but because they can’t.

On Wednesday afternoon as I was driving to the gym an angry woman called into Redi Thlabi’s show on 702. The woman was so filled with rage that she was on the verge of tears. Her anger, rightly so, was triggered by the horrific gang rape of a 22-year-old pregnant woman. The woman and her colleague are employed at a nightclub in Johannesburg and were walking home on Monday when they were attacked.

Her colleague, who spoke to The Star, told the newspaper that the group of men grabbed the woman and when he tried to protect her, they beat him up. They dragged the woman into a dilapidated block of flats.

“When the police arrived, we heard screaming from the building, which has no electricity. When we found her, there were men standing in a queue waiting to have sex with her,” the man told The Star.

They waited in line to rape her. The caller said she couldn’t even imagine what this young mother-to-be must be going through. Neither can I.

She added that the politicians and police have failed us, and she’s right. Meanwhile, across the pond from Johannesburg, a group of young men at the University of Pretoria thought it would be funny to hold up offensive and sexist posters during a singing performance by female students.

“Show us your tits”, “Blow me”, “I’m not an Asian but I’ll eat your cat”, “Nice thigh gap, can I fill it”, “Can I make you a momma”, read some of the posters, according to IOL.

This was apparently done to distract the women while they were singing – it was meant to be funny. I’m not laughing.

We live in sick and violent society where women and children are brutalised daily. Three-year-old Courtney Pieters from Elsies River was missing for two weeks before her tiny body was found buried in a shallow grave. She had been raped, twice.

Now, while the politicians will visit her parents to offer condolences, another child will be murdered, they might visit those parents too. And it will go on and on and on.

We have to protect ourselves. We need to arms ourselves with weapons instead of lipstick. We need to teach our daughters to become warriors instead of princesses. Cancel the ballet lessons and send your daughters to karate instead.

Learn self-defense and teach your daughters to fight back, to escape from danger and how to leave a man who abuses her. Companies should offer self-defense training to women employees as part of their wellness programmes; they should offer transport home to those who work late. Take the money out of the CEO’s bonuses if you need to, but this won’t happen.

A few weeks ago a concerned member of Virgin Active, Mpho Leseka, called 702’s Stephen Grootes saying that she always offers transport to staff to taxi ranks or near their homes after the gym closes at night. Virgin Active does not provide transportation for those who work late at night. Woolworths does, so does Dischem. Virgin Active South Africa spokesperson, Les Aupiais, who is a woman, told Grootes they have never received any reports from staff that have been mugged and sexually abused on their way home.

In fact, she said: “It’s one of the most complex and challenging issues. We have 140 clubs around the country. Most of them are in high traffic areas.”

Virgin active should be ashamed.

After my workout on Wednesday night, I asked the ladies at the front desk of the Virgin Active where I train if the transport situation had been sorted out. They said it hadn’t and they were barred from speaking out about it.

“This one,” she said, pointing to her colleague, “lives in town and she was almost a victim, but nobody cares.”

See, we’re on our own.

- Monica Laganparsad is deputy news editor of News24.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. 

Read more on:    #menaretrash
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