Women turn to social media to recount abuse, violence

The Department of Women's Mmabatho Ramagoshi says that perpetrators of gender based violence must be held accountable. (Nation Nyoka, News24)
The Department of Women's Mmabatho Ramagoshi says that perpetrators of gender based violence must be held accountable. (Nation Nyoka, News24)

Johannesburg – Social media has helped women recount their experiences of abuse and violence, in ways mainstream media has not, a Film and Publication Board discussion heard on Wednesday.

“Had it not been for social media, would we have known about Karabo Mokoena or the Manana assault if they or others hadn't posted their experiences and told their side of the story in a way that the media couldn’t?” Gender Links’ media co-ordinator, Tarisai Nyamweda, asked.

She said there was a lack of diversity in sources used by the media, which amounted to a systematic silencing of women’s voices. Media largely quoted spokesmen and male experts on women-related issues, she said.

The FPB was hosting a discussion in Boksburg, on the East Rand, about media and violence. This was part of its review of current classification guidelines.

Mbuyiselo Botha, of the Commission for Gender Equality, said gender-based violence was perpetuated when people looked the other way or did nothing.

Botha lambasted former higher education deputy minister Mduzuzi Manana's bodyguards for their role in the assault of two women at the Cubana nightclub in Fourways, Johannesburg, in the early hours of Sunday, August 6. In a video, they appear to be surrounding and even helping Manana.

Botha said some media houses used their platforms to demean women and were instrumental in shaping patriarchal social scripts that presented women as weak objects belonging to men.

“Women can die with a protection order in their hands,” he said.

Also read: South Africa: A country where women and children end up as grim stats

Karabo Mokoena was sent home from a police station and told to work it out after her ex-lover, murder-accused Sandile Mantsoe, allegedly assaulted her. Her burnt body was found in a veld in Lyndhurst, Johannesburg, on April 29. He is currently on trial.

Mmabatho Ramagoshi, of the Department of Women, said when men felt they had lost control over a woman, they went as far as killing her and then themselves to avoid the consequences.

Perpetrators of crimes against women were usually released on bail, perpetuating the idea that anyone could act with impunity, she said.

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