Blame abusive men, not women and children
BEING an organisation committed to non-violence, the Ceasefire Campaign welcomes Sowetan's focus on partner and family murders, "Family murders on rise"
We agree that because of gender stereotyping while growing up, boys are taught that expressing hurt and pain is unmanly and that resolving conflict with violence is acceptable.
We sympathise with men who feel unable to report their being abused by female partners because they are looked down on by the police and their communities. South Africa's Domestic Violence Act does not differentiate between women and men.
Statistically, however, women and children are overwhelmingly the victims of domestic violence and family murders.
The cases referred to in the article indicate this.
The Ceasefire Campaign's media watch on this issue showed that last year on average a woman or child was killed by an intimate partner every week. Women in abusive relationships are more likely to die than those in nonviolent ones.
The chances of being killed are increased substantially in households with firearms.
The argument that men kill their partners and children because they are depressed and feel helpless in not being able to provide support for them may be appropriate in some cases, but not often.
It is also too easy to put these tragedies down to men feeling emasculated because of a perception that women have more rights than men. Does having identifiable organisations (the reference to People Opposing Women Abuse) committed to assisting women who are abused mean they have more rights?
Placing the blame for the actions of men on women also surfaces in "Frustrated men help themselves" in the same edition of Sowetan. The article promotes the very stereotyping we should be avoiding.
It asserts that men are vulnerable to affairs with domestic workers because empowered women threaten their masculinity while the workers, who personify a traditional notion of femininity, don't.
In promoting more equal relationships, both partners should have nurturing and caring roles and a professional relationship with the domestic help.
- Laura Pollecutt, co-ordinator Ceasefire Campaign