In the less than 10 days, two South African women have been in the headlines for having been killed by their lovers. Nkosiphile Khambule who died after being trapped in a house set alight by her boyfriend and Kwasa Zozo who died after being stabbed multiple times by her boyfriend. In this opinion piece, I try to question the state of affairs of our country that has allowed it to become such a haven for such atrocious crimes against women.
It tends to seem as if, although women are enraged and seek some form of upheaval, men simply believe that generalization cannot be upheld and that not all men are capable of such crimes. However statistics don’t lie and a woman in South Africa is 5 times more likely to be killed than anywhere else in the world. This however doesn’t mean I am generalizing, I am simply inculpating that by keeping quiet, we are all complicit in these crimes.
In an effort to understand as to why men persist to be violent against women, I have read up some psychology papers and some, dare I say if not most, have alluded to several factors such as childhood traumas, alcohol and drug use at personal & intimate levels, but at societal level, the continued subjugation of women under the reinforcement of gender roles as factors leading to gender based violence. My interest lies mainly on the societal level, because the scrutiny of individual levels will perhaps require more analysis than I am competent to give. Is South Africa patriarchal? Can we say that the partriachal society is then the reason men continue to torture women? That in 2020, masculinity is still being linked to dominance, roughness and violence?
Dr David Ofori Kumi (PhD), a Ghanaian born man, seemed to possess the same worry that most people have in South Africa. This after we had a brief conversation, wherein I dared to ask him, from a neutral point of view what he thought was the cause of gender based violence was. He said, from his observations, it was the culture and violent history of our country. Although I am not well-versed with the different cultures in South Africa, I can almost conclusively agree that South Africa does have a violent history. Can we then blame it for the continued crimes against women and children? This is the big question that continues to persist.
Bheki Cele, our police minister, can be loosely quoted as saying that it is unfair to allude that police officers are not doing their absolute most to combat gender-based violence, that besides the arrest of perpetrators, there is nothing more they can do. Here’s a suggestion, the same rigour he has in enforcing lockdown, the alcohol ban in particular, should be the same rigour when he condemns the crimes against women and continues to reinforce the needed police intervention. I believe the perpetrators continue the violence because of the lack of stern condemnation from the state and the police, afterall, even some policemen are guilty of the crime.
It is becoming harder and harder to ensure the safety of women on a day to day basis. A simple stop at the post office may as well be your last stop, to this, I implore all victims of violence to report the perpetrators, as these people will probably continue doing more harm afterwards and continue to victimizing other people. This will be a step in ridding the country of this thorn. The law has changed and now, even after the victim drops the charges against their perpetrators, specifically for charges of gender-based violence, the suspects will still be required to appear in court.
In conclusion, understanding the cause of the horrendous mentalities in men that leads to them being the perpetrators and/or onlookers that do nothing, may aid in actually ridding the country of this persistent issue. I charge that it will be a collective effort until the country is free of violence against women. No one should turn a blind eye.