This is a hard one to write. 2017 has been a heavy year globally but, especially in South Africa, when it comes to the realities of gender relations. The stories of how men – of which I am one – treat women is tragic, brutal and downright cruel. There is an epidemic in South Africa.
The reality of women abuse
In a press release from 1st For Women, it is stated that:
- SA has one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world and the Department of Justice estimates that 1 out of every 4 SA women are survivors of domestic violence.
- In 2014/2015 it is estimated that 563 841 sexual offences occurred but only 62 649 were reported. 8174 of these cases went to court and only 1% of these perpetrators got jail time for their horrendous crimes.
Think about that. These offences are underreported and even with that, only 1% get jail time. That is horrific. And yet, many of my fellow men seem more concerned with hashtags like #MenAreTrash and how “not all of us are like that” or “I am a good man.” We are all complicit in this whether we like it or not. And, if we don’t want to be called Trash, then we need to do something about it. We can’t continue to sit on the side lines. We can’t continue to expect women, who are the victims of our violence, to fix something that clearly lies within us.
Earlier this year, after a number of brutal killings of young women came to our collective attention, there was a flurry of activity including a march that I attended in Tshwane. It was great to see such an outpouring but I honestly believe that, more importantly, we need to be able to take that energy and translate it into some form of action. Let’s be clear. For every case we hear about, there are thousands that we don’t.
I am still grappling with the specifics of what that action should be but I do know that it needs us as men to engage honestly and come together to truly turn the hashtag #NotInOurName into something real. And part of doing that is providing support for initiatives that already exist. There are so many organisations out there doing great things but, because everyone operates in isolation, we are not able to truly change things. Which is why, when I was approached by 1st For Women to participate in bringing awareness to the For Women platform that they have developed, I jumped at the opportunity.
“For Women is an online platform which brings together NGOs involved in the fight against women abuse under one umbrella. This serves to consolidate efforts where people can either get the help they need in one place or people can find an organisation and give help if they think they can add value.”
The three key pillars to the platform are:
- Prevention – Identify and better understand the causes of woman abuse so that we can effectively address them thereby preventing woman abuse from taking place in the future. This is where organisations that work to address the multiple and often interlinked causes of abuse are highlighted.
- Preparation – Develop programmes to help prepare women as best we can should they find themselves in an abusive situation. And, highlighting organisations that empower women with tools they need to put an end to what it happening to them or to women they know and what to help
- Provision – Provide the necessary support to women who are in or leaving an abusive relationship by sharing information on organisations that support and assist abuse survivors on their journey.
This is an initiative of The 1st for Women Foundation, through which the organisation has also been providing funds, amounting to R56m to selected NGOs over the last 12 years.
Committed to bringing change
I have two young children – a 10-year old boy and a 6-year old girl. As a father, I consider my job as being to equip them with the tools to help them live the lives they choose. Every day, I consider how to raise both of them to have respect for themselves and their fellow beings. When I look at the current reality, I am fearful. How do I ensure that my son does not become an abuser and how do I ensure that my daughter can live the kind of life where she does not become a statistic, the 1 in 4?
When my wife leaves the house, I worry. When my female friends are out in the world, I worry. All I wish for is a country and a world where 16 Days of Activism against Women and Children Abuse is redundant. I make a commitment to contributing to ensure that this becomes a reality. And I sincerely believe that platforms like For Women can help me, as well as the multitudes of us who want to same thing, to do so. If you are an NGO or an individual who wants to do their part, visit www.for-women.co.za.