Tag Archives: 16 Days of Activism

365 Days of Violence Against Women – Because We Can!

boy_and_girl_reading_the_books_311136

The 16 days for no violence against women and children is commemorated annually from 25 November to 10 December and every year a theme is usually assigned to the campaign in an effort to get everyone speaking with one voice.

The theme for the campaign in South Africa for 2015 is: “Count me in: Together moving a non-violent South Africa forward”.

Sadly, I find this theme laughable! Why?

Abuse_Woman hiding face

Violence against women and children in South Africa continues unabated because there are no serious consequences for the perpetrators and because, in most cases, the courts and justice system fail the victims, survivors and their families.

All this violence is perpetrated in spite of wonderful progressive legislation which looks good on paper, but in reality, serves no purpose. We have, for example:

• The Domestic Violence Act (which has one of the broadest definitions of violence against women and children)
• South Africa has ratified the Convention on Violence Against Women
• South Africa has introduced a 365 days National Action Plan to end gender violence
• South Africa has instituted a National Council against gender-based violence
• South Africa has prioritised measures for the promotion and empowerment of women, such as setting up a special Government department

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In spite of all this, violence against women and children continues. Various studies have shown that 40 – 50 percent of women have experienced intimate partner violence. On top of all this, incidents of violence against women and children still go largely unreported. The approximately 50,000 rapes reported annually are estimated to be about nine times lower than the actual number reported.

Violence against women and children is so firmly entrenched in South Africa and it does not seem to be changing. Instead, violence has become an accepted way to assert and reassert masculinity and dominance.

Abuse_Woman on couch

What we need in South Africa:
• Government to provide resources to enforce the legislation that will send a strong message that these acts are unacceptable.
• Government must help change the cultural and religious beliefs and practices. Reforming gender-violent cultural and religious beliefs will be extremely challenging – almost impossible – if public leaders continue to enforce stereotypical beliefs and practices
• Civil society is in a position to work with people in transforming misguided cultural and religious beliefs and practices and has a duty to see to it that legislation and policies on violence against women are enforced.
• Civil society has to help improve people’s understanding of the relevant laws and policies and restore their trust in Government institutions.
• Civil society needs to publicly condemn Government leaders who speak and act in ways that enforce gender equality and women’s marginalisation.

Abuse_Woman cowering

We need a strong, united, multi-level response from both Government and civil society which is still not happening. Women and children continue to suffer as a result.

I also wrote:
The Stages of Power a mature man must progress through –
Find it here:

When will the nightmare end?

Heavens_Gate_2

A little over a month ago we ended our 16 Days of Activism of no violence against women and children here in South Africa. This past weekend, a nine-year old girl was found raped, burnt alive and left for dead. While doing this, the perpetrator allegedly laughed and said to the little girl “you will never be able to identify me”.

In court, looking into the face of the alleged suspect was too much for the sobbing mother who had to be escorted out of the courtroom. The alleged suspect is being charged with sexual assault, rape, abduction and attempted murder.

“Inconsistency gives the public the sense that the process is unfair. There is a lot of anger when someone walks away with a reduced sentence,” said Sanja Bornman, of the Women’s Legal Centre http://bit.ly/KE8ae5

Sexual Violence and HIV Fact Sheet

AIDS Ribbon 3D_Stick figures

25 November – 10 December marks the commemoration of 16 Days of Activism of no violence against women and children.

This period includes other important commemorative days like:

1 December – World AIDS day
3 December – International Day for Persons living with Disabilities
10 December – International Human Rights Day

Have you thought about the link between sexual violence and HIV?

Women may be exposed to HIV during rape and also mediated through gender power inequalities and the impact of sexual violence on a women’s sense of self, and in particular perceptions of control over sexual access to their bodies and their self-esteem.

Follow this link to find out more: http://www.afroaidsinfo.org/MRCWeb/appmanager/mrc/afroaidsinfo?_nfpb=true&_windowLabel=editorials_1_1&editorials_1_1_actionOverride=%2Fpageflows%2Feditorials%2Fbegin&editorials_1_1cm_nodepath=%2FBEA+Repository%2FArticles%2FHP%2FWomen%2FSexual+violence%2FFactsheet

The Cycle of Violence

Violence Wheel

Incident
 Any type of abuse occurs (physical/sexual/emotional)

Tension Building Abuser starts to get angry
 Abuse may begin
 There is a breakdown of communication
 Victim feels the need to keep the abuser calm
 Tension becomes too much
 Victim feels like they are ‘walking on egg shells’

Making-Up
 Abuser may apologize for abuse
 Abuser may promise it will never happen again
 Abuser may blame the victim for causing the abuse
 Abuser may deny abuse took place or say it was not as bad as the victim claims
Calm
 Abuser acts like the abuse never happened
 Physical abuse may not be taking place
 Promises made during ‘making-up’ may be met
 Victim may hope that the abuse is over
 Abuser may give gifts to victim

The cycle can happen hundreds of times in an abusive relationship. Each stage lasts a different amount of time in a relationship. The total cycle can take anywhere from a few hours to a year or more to complete.

It is important to remember that not all domestic violence relationships fit the cycle. Often, as time goes on, the ‘making-up’ and ‘calm’ stages disappear.

Adapted from the original concept of: Walker, Lenore. The Battered Woman. New York: Harper and Row, 1979.

What Can I Do To Be Safe?

Call the police

If you feel you are in danger from your abuser at any time, you can call 10111 or your local police.

Consider the following:
 If you are in danger when the police come, they can protect you.
 They can help you and your children leave your home safely.
 They can arrest your abuser when they have enough proof that you have been abused.
 They can arrest your abuser if a personal Protection Order has been violated.
 When the police come, tell them everything the abuser did that made you call.
 If you have been hit, tell the police where. Tell them how many times it happened. Show them any marks left on your body.

Marks may take time to show up. If you see a mark after the police leave, call the police to take pictures of the marks. They may be used in court. While waiting for the police, get someone to take pictures of your bruises for you. Use your cell phone if necessary.
 If your abuser has broken any property, show the police.
 The police can give you information on domestic violence programs and shelters.
 The police must make a report saying what happened to you. Police reports can be used in court if your abuser is charged with a crime.
 Get the officers’ names, badge numbers, and the report number in case you need a copy of the report.
 A police report can be used to help you get a Protection Order.

Get support from friends and family
Tell your supportive family, friends and co-workers what has happened.

Find a safe place
It is not fair. You should not have to leave your home because of what your abuser has done. But sometimes it is the only way you will be safe. There are shelters that can help you move to a different city or state. HAVEN can put you in touch with them.

Get medical help
If you have been hurt, go to the hospital or your doctor. Domestic violence advocates (Social Workers) may be called to the hospital.

They are there to give you support. You may ask medical staff to call one for you.

Medical records can be important in court cases. They can also help you get a Protection Order. Give all the information about your injuries and who hurt you that you feel safe to give.

Special medical concerns
 Sometimes you may not even know you are hurt.
 What seems like a small injury could be a big one.
 If you are pregnant and you were hit in your stomach, tell the doctor. Many abusers hurt unborn children.
 Domestic violence victims can be in danger of closed head injuries. This is because their abusers often hit them in the head.

If any of these things happen after a hit to the head, get medical care right away.
* Memory loss
* Dizziness
* Problems with eyesight
* Throwing-up
* Headache that will not go away

Get a personal protection order

Make a safety plan
Plan what to do before or when you feel unsafe. We can provide you with a template which you can use to compile your own Safety Plan. E-mail us and request a copy at womendemanddignity5@gmail.com.
Source: http://www.domesticviolence.org

Rape statistics in South Africa – what do you think?

Crying Baby Animation

What do you think of the rape statistics in South Africa?

Can you believe that the latest statistics available in South Africa was compiled in the year 2000?

Rape Stats in SA by Stats SA 2000

Isn’t it just a crying shame?

Femicide

Animated Cat holding red roses

Fact sheet courtesy of: http://www.genderlinks.org.za
FEMICIDE
Definition
Femicide is the killing or murder of women that occurs because the victim is a woman. However, the gender related aspect of this crime is often ignored by the media and the judiciary and is categorised as murder or homicide.
Variations
Intimate femicide – the killing of a woman by her partner. It is the most common form of femicide, and the most reported on by the media.

Racist femicide- the killing of black women by white men.
Homophobic femicide- the killing of lesbians by heterosexual men,
Sexual murder- where the rape of a woman or women is followed by murder. This is also reflected in serial killings. For example, in 1994, 11 women were raped and killed by a serial killer in South Africa,
“Witch killing”-the killing of women who are accused of being witches. They occur mainly in rural areas, and may be caused by burning or stoning of women.

Gender issues
Femicide is a gender issue because the killing of a woman is based purely on her sex, or on the fact that she is a woman. Intimate femicide could be the end result of a relationship characterised by domestic violence. In this case a.woman is abused either physically or emotionally or psychologically for a long period of time by her partner, and eventually ends up being killed by him.
Other cases of femicide may result from other forms of violence such as rape. As mentioned above racism and homophobia can also result in the killing of women, based on their race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. The nature of “witch killing” is such that only women can be accused of it.

Patriarchy and the continued oppression of women in society has resulted in men exercising considerable power over women. This power is evidenced through for example, women’s inferior status in the workplace and in the home, and through the high levels of violence against women. Gender based inequalities are therefore at the root of violence against women.

Legal issues
The law is seen as a tool of redress where crimes are committed. However, the success of the law in addressing violence against women has been brought into question by gender activists. Secondary victimisation, or discrimination against women by the criminal justice system, is influenced by societal stereotypes of women. Ultimately, this results in lesser convictions for men who perpetrate violence against women. A study conducted by Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF) in 1995 has revealed that where the initial charge was murder, most , if not all are reduced to a lesser charge of culpable homicide, or even common assault on the basis of provocation as an extenuating circumstance. For example, in Botswana, 65% of perpetrators were convicted of manslaughter or homicide, while 24% of charges were either withdrawn or the accused was acquitted.

Intimate femicide is the end result of a relationship characterised by domestic violence, which escalates in severity over time. Yet this is rarely, if ever, acknowledge by the criminal justice system. Ultimately, many women are murdered at the hands of their partners, often after enduring years of physical and emotional abuse. The extent of the violence in the relationship is seldom explored by the court and the case is treated as a straightforward murder or homicide.

The inefficiency of law enforcement agents has also ensured that many cases of femicide are dismissed, or result in acquittals based on lack of evidence. A study on intimate femicide conducted South Africa has revealed that police investigation techniques leave a good deal to be desired. Instances occurred where there were no fingerprints or other evidence hove been obtained from the murder scene.

Presiding officers are also not entirely blameless, and this is reflected in the kinds of convictions handed down. It is also reflected in what they consider to be mitigating circumstonces¬ of provocation, that the accused had “high moral standards” or that the accused was called a “weakling” by his wife.

Stereotypes
Stereotypes about women influences the manner in which femicide is dealt with by the law or reported on by the media. The perpetuation of these stereotypes by such leading institutions have a bearing on the perceptions of the public, and may lead to the perpetuation of these stereotypes in all avenues of life including education, the workplace and the home.
Media stereotypes
Location- articles on the death of women killed or murdered are often not seen as newsworthy and are found towards the end af the newspaper. This is supported by studies conducted by WILDAF and POWA.
Headlines-these may highlight the way in which the media serves to perpetuate the common stereotypes that the women murdered in some way provoked the violence. Far example: “Nagging wife killer freed after custody” (Rude and Kadunga. 1995).
Vocabulary- more subtle forms of stereotyping are evident in the types of descriptions and forms of vocabulary used to describe events and circumstances behind femicide cases. In Zambia, killings that occur within the home are described as “domestic disputes”, which trivialises the issue and makes it seem much smaller than it really is. The fact that it has lead to the death of a woman does not appear to be a serious consideration for the relevant journalist.
Sensationalism- sensation sells and the media will publish a report, which is newsworthy, even if it perpetuates stereotypes. Intimate femicide does not only fulfil the criterion of negativity, it also increases its new value by the fact that it happens unexpectedly and fulfils the general expectation about the bleak state of the world. The sensationalism is enhanced by the presentation and reporting of such stories in an entertaining way.

Legal stereotypes
The manner in which judges or magistrates hand dawn sentences is influenced by their own attitudes and prejudices. This may lead to extremes in sentencing patterns and pepetrators literally get away with murder. For instance:
 “He could not reasonably be expected to be in control of his mental facilities…The husband did what any reasonable man would have done in the circumstances”. (Case of Kasuba, 1993, whose husband got a two year sentence far killing her).
 “The provocation offered by your wife was such that any self-respecting person would lose control. The facts reveal that you did not use a lethal weapon, you only used your fists. I feel this case calls for maximum leniency”. (Case of Mulampa, 1986, whose husband got a three-year suspended sentence).

Fact Box
 In Botswana, 68% of perpetrators received a sentence of less than 6 years far killing their partner.
 Suicide is 12 times as likely to have been attempted by a woman who is subject to abuse than by one who is not

This section has drawn an the following sources of information:
 Facts and Figures on Violence Against Women, Division for the Advancement of Women, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Inter-agency Global Video Conference, March 1999.
 “Man Shoots Wife~ A pilot study detailing intimate femicide in Gauteng, South Africa, POWA.
 The Private is the Public: A study of violence against women in Southern Africa, WlLDAF, 1995.

Rape – a South African Crisis

Bee with flowers

“We need a political champion for women who will drive resources and additional budget to the issue of addressing violence against women.

The women of South Africa would be behind a champion like this 100%.

With elections approaching it’s a gift waiting to happen.”

See comments from Rape Crisis Director, Kathleen Dey, in this week’s Mail and Guardian on finding a political champion for women.

Rape in South Africa

Once Upon a Time . . .

Ancient Castle

Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful little girl . . .

The little girl grew up, met her prince, fell hopelessly in love, they got married and lived happily ever after – or did they?

Against All Odds – the Daily Maverick

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We found this article on Daily Maverick and thought it might interest you: http://dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2012-12-13-fighting-abuse-we-need-the-courage-to-continue-against-all-odds