Sis Dolly: The world continues to fail women and girls

By Drum Digital
12 May 2014

Sis Dolly on the treatment of women and girl around the world.

I find myself incensed every day at the rape, abuse, abduction and death of women and girls. This treatment is not just about the fact that every eight hours a South African woman is killed by an intimate partner, it is also about the fact that women and girls are the punch bags for disempowered men or the trophies for empowered men who want to further exert their power or illustrate how powerful they are by treating women as lesser.

The thing that repeatedly confuses me is that element where powerful and disempowered men behave in the same way.  So you ask yourself, what is it that we need to be doing to avoid this abuse of women? Because, if we agree that it is about power over another then, there is no differentiator between powerful men and emasculated men. So how do we identify the threat?

This is the point where I feel particularly angry, because whatever we do or don’t do as women there is no avoiding this treatment. Because technically, it is not the fault of women!

Recently I have been asked to comment on the top features of an abusive relationship and how to be able to identify these if you think you are in an abusive relationship. The thing is that there are classic indicators and then they are nuanced, simply because abusers tap into your particular area of insecurity or vulnerability. And my maternal instincts want to gather up all those vulnerabilities and remind you all that having these vulnerabilities is fine. What we tend to do as human beings is convert these into areas of insecurity. Just being able to identify your areas of vulnerability gives you the power to identify them when they are triggered by someone else’s behaviour. Your personal power lies in your ability to see the trigger, identify the insecurity it evokes and make the choice to still stand in the power and wonder of all the strength that you are.

But I digress, in commenting on the indicators of abusive relationships, the next question is always, “how can women avoid this situation?” My current response is to ask how is it that women are now tasked with the burden of responsibility for men’s behaviour towards them.  How about we ask men to take this responsibility and look at themselves? Every single day women are killed, abducted, trafficked, raped and lesbians raped in that equally despicable notion of corrective-raped.

From the Rhodes student Amanda who died recently to the almost 300 girls abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria to the unreported deaths of women killed by their intimate partner (according to the Medical Research Council, one in five deaths of women go unreported) I feel personally wounded, personally afflicted and angry that this continues within my country, on my continent and within this global society I belong to.

It is too much and we do too little! Each one of us is responsible for standing for an end to this violence against women. The power lies in each one of us saying “no more” and then choosing to do something about it, every single day. Because every single one of those affected is not a stranger to someone. Why are we waiting until it happens to someone we know or love? What are you going to do today and every day to support an end to violence against women?

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