Guest Column

Men, we have failed our women

2017-06-08 12:56
Video

Gauteng demonstrates against women and children abuse

2017-06-07 12:52

The Gauteng Provincial Legislature joined hands with the Johannesburg community to fight violence against women and children in South Africa. Watch.WATCH

Iavan Pijoos

When I think of women, I think of this quote from Matthew Henry: "The woman came from the man's rib, not from his feet to be walked on, not from his head to be superior, but from the side to be equal and under the arm to be protected and next to the heart to be loved."

Many women die at the hands of men in this country every day – the same men who are supposed to protect and cherish them. They are found in bushes, mutilated, clothes torn off, burnt beyond recognition, tossed away like pieces of rubbish.

Just like Karabo Mokoena, Courtney Pieters, Thembisile Yende or Hannah Cornelius, I lost a cousin in such a cruel manner. As a journalist I often write about women being killed or abused. I speak to their friends and relatives to find out what happened. Suddenly I was on the other side of the fence, but because she was too close to me, I had no desire to know how she died, or who the killer was.

She was murdered in her flat at the end of March this year. She would have turned 25 in April. The thought of her being gone still haunts me and I find it hard to speak or write about. Even writing about it upsets her family. She was the mother of a five-year-old girl.

She was in the prime of her life, starting out as a teacher. Not only a teacher to pupils at the local school, but a teacher and role model to a daughter who admired everything she did. A mother to a daughter who once said, “One day I want to be like my mommy.” She will be absent at her matric farewell, and on the day she says “I do”. A mother who will be absent when she has children and needs a grandmother to help her raise them. Let that sink in.

She and many others had much more to offer this world.

A few months ago, women started the hashtag, #MenAreTrash. Instead of seeing it as a cry for help, many men got offended. Are you really men or just boys with little egos? "I'm not like all men", "I would never kill". These were some of the reactions. Some even went as far as saying, "The hashtag is bullshit."

It was baffling how the outrage over the hashtag seemed bigger than the outrage about the number of women raped, kidnapped, abused, violated, and killed at the hands of men. Imagine how much more could have been achieved if the anger over the hashtag could have been channelled into stopping the daily violations of their dignity women have to face.

What some men don’t understand is that the bruising to their little egos will never compare to the amount of fear some women live in. The minute women leave their houses, they become victims. Men feel they have the right to spit crass, lewd remarks at them.

“She’s my size.”

“I would hit that.”

“Khula sihlahla sizodla” (grow quickly so that we can have sex with you), “upakishile” (you are bootylicious) and “I like big girls.”

They act like a dog seeing food, was how a colleague of mine put it.

Men, we have failed our women. We can't allow the women we are supposed to love and protect to become hashtags on social media.

Respect to the men who attended the #NotInOurName march, but that's not enough. What has been done after the march to protect our women? Where are our male role models? Step up and lead the charge.

Women are afraid. They would rather stay behind locked doors, because they feel "safer". But how safe are they really when they are being killed in their homes? They are on their own with no one to protect them.

I'll say it again, we need to do more.

There are many men whose friends they know abuse their partners. You need to stop protecting them. You need to be a voice for those women too afraid to dump the scumbags that abuse them, or who stay with those men because they think they will stop.

I called them scumbags, yes. You are not worthy to be called a man.

- Iavan Pijoos is a reporter at 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. 

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