'Rural women are more vulnerable to abuse'

Namhla Tshisela

Namhla Tshisela

Financial dependency and lack of access to basic services such as water and electricity make rural women more vulnerable to gender- based violence, the ANC Women's League said yesterday.

"We can have as many laws as we want, but they mean nothing if rural women are not empowered," said Nthabiseng Khunou, a spokesman for the ANCWL.

Khunou, who is also a member of parliament, said unemployment and pressure for women to provide for their families often forced them to stay with abusive partners.

"We need to improve the lives of women in the rural areas so that they can stand on their own," said Khunou.

"Women in rural areas are still forced to go out to the veld to look for firewood, where anything could happen to them," said Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, a Gauteng executive committee member of the ANCWL.

Nkomo-Ralehoko said thatinitiatives such as the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children needed to reach more rural women to inform them of their rights.

"It is our duty to go out into rural areas and encourage women to talk about gender- based violence and child abuse to make sure that they are not left behind," said Nkomo-Ralehoko.