A healthier way of living and loving

2009-11-21 13:03

IT’S a heart-stopping thing to do. As much as the 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children campaign encourages the act of speaking out, it is not an easy thing to do.

This week, City Press has decided to speak out. Two of our journalists tell their stories in black and white. Two more of our friends will follow next week. We hope you will tell your story too.

It is a painful read: excruciating in its detail and painful in its impact. For these are women who are independent and opinionated; sheroes for young journalists for whom they are role models.

To all intents and purposes, they are the South African dream: young, black, professional and successful. Yet they are also part of the one in two South African women who have felt the brunt of violence in a relationship.

Abuse is a story of every South African. It reaches across colours and classes. It is our greatest national shame.

The journalists have felt the pain of the pain inflicted by the person closest to you.

They write about the pull of tradition and family, the human need to get it right and above all, the frustration of loving through your tears and your fears.

They write about taking back the person who hurts you – again and again until you realise that it is not going to stop because abuse is often an end-game: someone has to lose their soul.

We publish these articles not as a revelation of victimisation or revenge. We publish the series as a show of strength and the triumph of resilient spirits.

It is also a challenge for more people to tell their story so that somebody somewhere suffering silently will say: I can do something about this. I can free myself; I can be well. This is not normal; this is not life.

It is almost trite to say that nothing gets better despite the hoopla of the 16 days which starts on Wednesday.

It doesn’t. We have been playing 16 days for 11 years now and statistics show that rape and abuse are impervious to the arsenal of law and consciousness that South Africa has worked so hard to build.

The Domestic Violence Act is state of the art legislation which in the scale of its ambition. But it falls apart in appalling implementation. Budgets are too small and at the coal-face, women and children are still not prioritised.

This year, we pledge ourselves to move beyond 16 days. We will use our pages and our website to mount a year-long ­focus on abuse and violence.

As we do today, we will also tell stories of triumph and of a different sort of ending. In this, we welcome the burgeoning of a men’s movement in South Africa where increasingly brothers and sisters are finding healthier ways of living and loving.

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