"Shocking Words" of Shabangu spoke of Karabo Mokoena are not shocking

2017-05-30 14:51

Reporter Amanda Khoza, of News 24 reported that the Minister of Women in the Presidency, Susan Shabangu, said Karabo Mokoena, "was weak and hence she became a victim of abuse."

Some may find it remarkable that the "Minister of Women" could speak such insensitive comments about the young Karabo Mokoena, who was tragically murdered. Having worked in Los Angeles for many years as a community educator for the prevention of Gender-Based Violence against women, it comes as absolutely no surprise to me.

There is a "knee-jerk" reaction against women who are victims of sexual assault, relationship violence, and sexual harassment to automatically question the attitude, dress, and actions of the victims, even if they are murdered. Too often the news media unwittingly contributes to the finger pointing towards victims by using the passive voice when referring to their demise. They say the "death" of victims, as if they just dropped dead accidentally.  No! It is a "murder." Karabo Mokena was the victim of “murder,” not a passive "death." "Murder" puts the blame where it justly resides --- on the male perpetrators, not the victims. 

Until all people start to challenge their own presuppositions about why women and girls are victims of violence, then this problem will continue in South Africa, Los Angeles, and worldwide. The list of women murdered and raped in South Africa has hit epidemic proportions. This terrible list will continue to grow until the shame that is thrust upon women victims of relationship violence and sexual assault by leaders in government and communities’ ceases.  It is time for all of us to reflect. We must be mindful of the thoughts in our minds and the words that come from our lips when speaking of women victims of violence.

Prevention is the key to stopping this epidemic of gender-based violence. That is why I am contributing to movements like the "African Women's Relationship Empowerment Conference" (www.africanwomensconference.com) taking place in October in Johannesburg.  We have to empower women to realize that they deserve healthy relationships that are built on mutual respect and non-violence. South Africa cannot afford any more victims like Karabo Mokena, nor ministers adding to the shame victims endure. 

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