As we observe 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, it’s been another week of horror across the country.
A woman and her five children were butchered to death in their home on Tuesday night, allegedly by the husband; a mother and her husband appeared in court after her two-year-old daughter was raped and murdered – allegedly by her step-dad, who had also allegedly previously assaulted the little girl.
And then the ANC reinstated a provincial executive committee (PEC) member accused of raping his two daughters just days after President Cyril Ramaphosa called on the ANC to take gender-based violence seriously.
However, the party seems to be changing its mind after the reinstatement caused justified outrage.
How are men supposed to take it seriously when our own government evidently doesn’t? The ANC’s provincial spokesperson Sasekani Manzini said “it would be unfair for us in the province to say he [the man accused of raping his daughters] must not participate” in the PEC. “Unfair.” And this is not the first time the former MEC has been accused of rape.
Just 16 days to observe gender-based violence – a humanitarian crisis in this country. According to Powa (People Opposing Women Abuse), seven women are killed daily, and a reported 40% to 50% of men have admitted to physical partner violence.
But it feels like every time the 16 days what-what rolls around, we repeat the same calls to action. What has changed for women since Ramaphosa’s much-hyped national conference, and since the last 16 days?
This week, Ramaphosa promised to change the laws dealing with gender violence to protect women and give perpetrators harsher penalties.
“Amendments to the sexual offences and related matters bill and criminal amendment act and the domestic violence act will strengthen existing laws to protect women and children,” he said.
But these key bills were introduced to Parliament in September. Surely if they were that important they would have been fast-tracked?
Enough of the 16-day party for abusers. All it does is highlight the failure of our government and our society to protect the most vulnerable.
Fast-track the laws. Create special courts and investigative teams to deal with these cases swiftly and effectively. Get it done. We don’t want to have to repeat our words again next year.