Alarming rise in femicide

2018-05-21 10:18
Abused women urged to get help before it's too late.

Abused women urged to get help before it's too late. (Supplied)

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WATCH: 'Karabo was failed by men who were supposed to protect her'

2017-05-18 08:36

The lack of male voices around the topic of women and child abuse, as well as femicide, took the spotlight at Karabo Mokoena’s memorial in Diepkloof, Soweto on Wednesday.WATCH

Ntombizodwa Dlamini, Zolile Khumalo, Siam Lee and Karabo Mokoena are but a few of the most recent intimate femicide victims, and the list seems to grow every day.

Intimate femicide is defined as the murder of women by their current or ex-partners, same-sex partner or a rejected would-be lover.

A report by Africa Check revealed that the global rate of femicide for 2015 was 2,4 per 100 000 women. South Africa’s rate for the same year was 9,6 per 100 000 women — a chilling four times higher.

Although police are unable to quantify the increase in incidents of violence against women and children countrywide, Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese admitted the numbers are on the rise.

“Generally we have seen a peak in cases of domestic violence directed at women and we are very concerned about this. We need to do awareness campaigns together with the Department of Social Development, Health and the municipality to remind women in such situations that there are structures in place to help and protect them before it’s too late.”

Ngobese appealed to women in abusive relationships to report the matter to the police and to leave abusive partners.

“We have seen how such relationships end usually in fatalities, so it is important for people to speak up and get help to prevent them from dying at the hands of their partners,” he said.

Many factors can lead a man to abuse a woman

Weekend Witness wanted to get an understanding of why these violent acts against women occur.

Pietermaritzburg Clinical Psychologist Clive Willows said there is no single answer to the question of why men abuse women but there are common factors that are usually present.

“Many men share a set of beliefs regarding their ‘right’ to be the dominant partner in a relationship and the view about women that they are subservient and possessions. Such beliefs can promote an arrogant disrespect manifesting in various forms of abuse — emotional, physical, sexual and financial.

“This male belief system coupled with a poor ability to regulate their own emotions provides the vulnerability for an immature and violent expression when they feel angry or rejected,” he said.

Willows added that such immaturity is evident in the explanations of perpetrators that “She made me angry”, “She was making a fool out of me”, and “She would not listen to me”.

“These and similar thoughts help relieve the perpetrator of personal responsibility and provide justification for their behaviour ...”

Willows said answers to the difficult but important question as to how to prevent such violence lie within our understanding of how such thoughts and poor controls have developed.

“This violence is but one manifestation within a society that seems to condone violence as a legitimate response whenever one feels aggrieved or entitled ... We demonstrate an inconsistent and ambivalent opinion of violence, seemingly condoning it in some situations but condemning it in others. This inconsistent message causes doubt in the minds of women and children as to how their pleas will be heard and so silence becomes their less risky option,” he said.

He said the fact that our society is also one in which absent fathers are so prevalent, means that boys are not disciplined in managing their emotions through modelling and instruction.

Willows said prevention and early reporting will therefore depend on a consistent message that is taught in homes and schools from an early age that violence is wrong and that disrespect of others will always have consequences. 

Encounter of an abuse survivor

A local woman, who is one of the lucky few who are able to get out of abusive relationships, shared her past experiences with Weekend Witness.

“When he hit me, he said it was because I didn’t listen to him and I would go out drinking when he specifically told me he didn’t want me going out drinking as he doesn’t date women who drink. I told him he wasn’t going to tell me what to do and how to live my life because he’s not my father; I asked him why he went out drinking and I couldn’t. He responded with a slap and said he’s doing my family a favour as I am ungovernable.

“He also accused me of cheating on him, but he was expecting his second child with another woman while we were together.

“When he hit me, I felt so weak and helpless; all of the things I said would never happen to me, happened that evening. I’m an educated young woman, I’m clever ... I’ve accomplished so many things in my life, and I am amongst the women who got hit by their partner.

“I won’t lie to you, even telling this story is embarrassing. I’ve never told all of it; how he pinned my hands with his knees and sat on my chest slapping me until I managed to get my hands free and push him off me. I kept apologising but he didn’t stop. I’ve never told of how he forced himself on me and said he would slap me again if I didn’t have sex with him.

“Only a few friends of mine know, but no family member knows because I’m afraid I will be judged. I’ve been raped twice actually. I never told anyone about the other incident because I was the one who visited the guy. I told him ‘no’ but he forced himself on me anyways, so I still feel partially responsible ...

“I tell myself all the time that all these violent acts were never my fault, but only if I had just stayed at home, none of it would’ve happened. I’m an independent young woman, but I’m not sure how strong I am anymore; my dignity and pride were stripped away by two men.

“I always thought I was going to be the one to break the cycle of women abuse at home because all my sisters [cousins included] have been beaten by their partners. My aunt was the worst example because she kept going back to her husband who would drag her out by her legs onto the street in front of people, beat her up with an iron in front her children, but still she never left him until she died of natural causes a few years ago.

“When I managed to break up with him I hated him for a very long time. He has apologised a couple of times and I would like to believe I have forgiven him but every time I would re-live that evening, it made me really angry.

“I’m a graduate now, things are moving in the right direction, but I cannot seem to fall in love again. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with the abusive past but I can’t trust men anymore,” she said.

These are just some of the recent intimate femicide incidents reported by the media:

• On Mother’s Day, an Edendale Hospital nurse Ntombizodwa Charlotte Dlamini (40), was shot and killed by her prison warder husband, Sipho Dlamini in Bisley. The warder later shot himself in the head after a six-hour standoff with more than 20 police officers. They are survived by two sons aged eight and 11 years old.

• Last month, Northdale man Nathen Rampersad (30), allegedly poured petrol over his girlfriend (17) and set her alight after she refused to clean his room. The teenager survived with serious injuries. Rampersad has been remanded in custody until May 28 after being referred to a district surgeon for him to be assessed to determine if he is mentally stable.

• Quantity surveying Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) student Zolile Khumalo (21) was allegedly shot dead by ex-boyfriend Thabani Mzolo (23) at her Lonsdale residence this month. Mzolo is set to appear again in court on June 19 for a formal bail application.

• Sandile Mantsoe was found guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend Karabo Mokoena. Mantsoe stabbed Mokoena and tried to hide the murder by burning her remains. Mokoena’s charred remains were found by a passer-by in Lyndhurst, Johannesburg in April 2017. Mantsoe was recently sentenced to an effective 32 years behind bars.

• Durban North woman Siam Lee (20) was abducted from an alleged Durban North brothel on January 4 this year. Her charred body was discovered on a farm in New Hanover in the Midlands two days later. An Assagay businessman faces numerous charges including the kidnapping of Lee and the rape of another woman.

• Police constable Doctor Sipho Chonco (32) allegedly shot dead his long-term partner Wendy Dlamini in Northdale in April this year. His case was been adjourned to May 24.

• In late 2016, a Pietermaritzburg police officer was allegedly beaten to death with a pick handle by her boyfriend. Sergeant Thabisile Penelope Zondi (41) was severely assaulted, suffering multiple blows to the body and face.

• In early 2017, a woman and her relative were left fighting for their lives after being shot, allegedly by the woman’s boyfriend, who then turned the gun on himself. The shooting occurred in the parking lot at the Public Works Department in Pietermaritzburg.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  femicide

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