SA not free till women are safe

Stop violence against women
Stop violence against women

Sowetan is in full support of the #TotalShutdown marches against women abuse that will be taking place across the country today.

It is completely unacceptable that South Africa remains a country that is unsafe for women, despite an internationally renowned constitution that values human rights.

Hardly a day goes by at this newspaper without a reporter or more coming up with a story of a woman who has been assaulted by her partner; raped by a man or verbally abused by a male.

It is time we put an end to this, especially in our homes. Statistics show that a high number of women who die violently are killed by their partners.

For too many years this issue has been handled without the seriousness and urgency it deserves. For 16 days in a year there would be rallies; political speeches and opinion pieces written to highlight the crisis.

Soon thereafter, South Africa would then go back to its old ways and pretend as if nothing was happening.

Today's campaign, and many others that are to follow, will help push this scourge to the centre of our discussions about where our country is going.

We hope it would spark debate among policymakers as to whether our criminal justice system is well positioned to arrest the violence.

But most importantly, we hope that it would force men - whether they have ever engaged in violence against women or not - to re-examine their attitude towards women.

For it starts with the idea that you own her and her body and then when you don't see eye to eye you believe yourself justified to raise your hand against her.

Although organisers of the main marches today have discouraged the participation of men, arguing that they want to feel safe when they take to their streets on their own, we believe that there is a role to be played by men.

It need not be in the form of marching or picketing, but it certainly has to start with each of our men examining their individual negative behaviour towards women. Patriarchy may feel comfortable for the male species, but the reality is that no society can claim to be truly free when its women are discriminated against and abused.

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