The war on the scourge of women abuse is all ours

Thousands of women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against gender-based violence under the #TotalShutdown movement.
Thousands of women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against gender-based violence under the #TotalShutdown movement.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children are here again!

As usual, they got off to a bad start with the shooting in a Durban court of a wife who was trying to divorce an abusive husband.

It ended in tragedy. Many examples abound where prominent leaders in society perpetrate abuse knowing very well that they will not be challenged by their friends and subordinates.

Women bashers are literary getting away with murder like we saw in Durban this week.

Tomorrow, it will be one of our friends and all of us are complicit in fuelling the violence against women. You and I would rather turn a blind eye than confront those close to us in our circles of friends and in our families.

I am also guilty as charged. I have gone through one of the most emotionally traumatic experiences with a woman who ended up with a sex scandal that trended on social media and made newspaper headline. A story I will soon tell as I refuse to be silenced.

The conspiracy of silence among all of us in our families, in the government - even in churches - is the biggest impediment to defeat this scourge.

The EFF in North West was also in the news about some of its members being accused of violence. While EFF leader Julius Malema was quick to point a finger at DA chief whip and accused him of rape, his own chief whip choked a journalist in the streets of parliament and has called women journalists "white bitches" a few years ago!

It's bad all around.

The ANC can't explain Mduduzi Manana, a former deputy minister, who twice got caught raising a hand to women, yet it took months for him to resign instead of facing a parliamentary inquiry.

Instead, the ANC elected him onto their national executive committee where he rubbed shoulders with women activists.

So it is clear that we can't trust politicians to fix this through slogans, rallies and workshops, a waste of money spent during these days of activism.

Maybe until one prominent leader falls because of abuse we will never send a right message.

The media has also been in the spotlight. Some entertainment industry leaders have not covered themselves in glory concerning abuse.

The reports of sexual harassment at the SABC were a horror story.

It's a shame that women are still subjected to sexual harassment over bread and butter issues.

At few community radio stations, budding journalists had to quit due to harassment; while in newsrooms the scourge is palpable.

As media practitioners, we need to name and shame in order to win the fight over the scourge and root out the abusers from our midst.

How long are we going to be silent about pastors like Timothy Omotoso, who is on trial for rape and human trafficking?

When are we going to expel predators in the Roman Catholic Church? How many Cheryl Zondis are dying in silence while being at the mercy of pastors and their families?

An archbishop this week said he would rather go to jail than report child abuse revealed at confession!

We are far from winning this war. But we have to fight on and start naming and shaming these abusers and make sure they have no place to hide.

- Keswa is a businesswoman and writes in her personal capacity

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