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Do South African men value their women?

23 December 2011, 14:47

Is South Africa still struggling with the changing role for women in our modern society?

Despite the cultural and traditional conflicts, women have made quite the effort to end their oppression and bring in Nelson Mandela’s ideas to end inequality. Have black South African women finally come to understand their own potential and have they laid claim to their own freedoms?

Women in South Africa have had a long and assiduous struggle towards their equality in South Africa. Moreover, they still have a long road ahead of them (as do women in most countries of the world) to ensure that their freedoms and liberties are not further impeded by men.

Under the old apartheid rule,African women suffered both racial and gender discrimination. These women had very few if any legal rights,no access to education and no right to own any property. Traditionally,African women back in the day worked as agricultural or domestic workers and their wages were extremely low,if it even existed.

The Natives Urban Areas Act of 1923 and the pass-laws,meant that Black African men usually worked in urban centres,while their women were forced to stay in rural areas.

Both the marriage law and births were controlled by the Apartheid government and the pro-apartheid Dutch Reformed Church,who tried to restrict the African birth rates.

Post-apartheid  South Africa,however, is dedicated to equality, which is one of the basic principles of the country's new constitution.The Sout African constitution guarantees equality for women and allows for affirmative action to address both gender and race inequality.

But what about Sexual Violence Against Women in South Africa today?

The United Nations report in September 2011 said that 71% of South African women experience physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives. Reasons for it being either low education, past exposure to child maltreatment or witnessing violence between parents, harmful use of alcohol, attitudes accepting of violence and gender inequality.

The UN defines 'any act that results in  physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty,as criminal.

South Africa has the worst record on earth when it comes to mistreatment of women,compared to other nations.

15% of women in Japan,24% in Peru,28% in Tanzania,30% in Bangladesh and 40% in South Africa. In South Africa a study of people aged between 13-23 years of age had found that 42% of females were reported being a victim of physical dating violence.

What are the health consequences for these?

Depression,post-traumatic stress disorder,sleep difficulties,eating disorders,emotional distress and suicide attempts.

Sexual violence, particularly during childhood, can lead to increased smoking, drug and alcohol misuse, and risky sexual behaviours in later life. It is also associated with perpetration of violence (for males) and being a victim of violence (for females).

Other health effects can include headaches, back pain, abdominal pain, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, limited mobility and poor overall health. In some cases, both fatal and non-fatal injuries can result.
Sensitization and educating people may bring about some rest bite,but other important strategies are needed.

The UN recommends that:

Building the evidence base on the scope and types of sexual violence in different settings and supporting countries' efforts to document and measure this sort of violence. This is central to understanding the magnitude and nature of the problem at a global level.

Developing technical guidance for evidence-based sexual violence prevention and for strengthening the health sector responses to such violence.

Disseminating information and supporting national efforts to advance women's rights and the prevention of and response to intimate partner and sexual violence against women.

Collaborating with international agencies and organizations to reduce/eliminate intimate partner and sexual violence globally.

However,do South African women like 'obeying' their men?

Strangely enough,but a study conducted by the South African Medical Research Council has revealed that nine out of ten men believe that a woman should obey her man. The research also shows that six out of ten women agree with that statement.

The Oxford English dictionary definition of the word "obey" as "to submit to the authority of, to carry out a command or instruction.Aren't modern relationships suppose to be more about listening, respecting and negotiating than just obeying? 

Human Rights Watch calls it “the silent crisis of the 21st century.”

There is no denying that violence is everywhere in today's World. In peoples homes,on the job,in school,in sports(ie a certain goalkeeper kicking an invading football fan)and glorified in entertainment,we face a very violent culture. Being exposed to it daily,many of us have come to accept it as normal—until we are victimized ourselves.

Will the crisis ever end in South Africa? I would like to know the answer to that. Wouldn't you?

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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