Why must it be so dangerous to be a woman in SA?

18 June 2020 - 09:22
By Lebo Keswa
Being a woman in SA is already an extreme sport as femicide has been inculcated into our daily lives, the writer says.
Image: Masixole Feni / GroundUp Being a woman in SA is already an extreme sport as femicide has been inculcated into our daily lives, the writer says.

Senzeni na? The only question ringing in my head as we are forced to navigate another wave of violence meted out on women by men in this country.

I'm compelled to ask myself what have we done to deserve this sheer disregard for our lives? What have we done to deserve the demonic cruelty that has resulted in the death of scores of women this year alone at the hands of known perpetrators?

It pains me to admit that I was one of the people who were engulfed by anxiety when the lockdown was announced because I immediately thought of the number of women who would be forced to endure an unprecedented amount of time confined with their abusers.

My sinister mind began to envision the impending headlines and livestream to be lost and I wondered as to what could be done to curb what I imagined was a foreseeable future.

Being a woman in SA is already an extreme sport as femicide has been inculcated into our daily lives. The brutal killing of women, simply because they are women, is fast becoming a norm in our beautiful nation and it fast reaching unacceptable standard. And this begs the question, senzeni na?

When President Cyril Ramaphosa took a bold stance against gender-based violence (GBV) a year ago after the untimely killing of a young student from Cape Town, Uyinene Mrwetyana, I thought finally! Finally our men will stand up and take notice, not only that but that they would join in on the fight. I thought that fathers, uncles and brothers would be at the forefront of this new war and protect women. But that has not happened unfortunately.

This despite the billion of rands that has been raised to tackle this monstrosity and the setting up of the GBV council within the presidency, very little has changed in the lives of ordinary women on the streets and within the confines of their dwellings.

Despite the march to parliament in last year that sought to demonstrate the dire situation created by GBV, nothing has changed. Parents continue to mourn the loss of their daughters, schoolmates experience the trauma of the loss of a classmate that has been raped and killed and colleagues battle to chart a new path after one of their own has been murdered by their partner/spouse.

Again I ask, senzeni na? Why are we dying at the hands of those that we love and care for? Statistics paint a harrowing picture where over fifty percent of the women killed in this country succumb to death at the hands of men that they know or have a personal relationship with.

Despite my initial fears sparked by the lockdown, I could never in my wildest dream predict that within the first few weeks that over 1,000 cases of GBV would've been opened around the country's police stations.

As if that wasn't sufficient, a shock revelation of the dire existence of women we have to now contend with the slaughter of heavily pregnant Tshegofatso Pule. She was found stabbed and hanging from a tree, this apparently was a befitting punishment for an argument she had had with her boyfriend.

Nothing that I have dealt with previously has prepared me for what happened to Tshegofatso and believe me when I say I have seen a special brand of cruelty against women in my lifetime.

Not the boxer 'Baby Lee' who was shot dead by her boyfriend, not the beautiful Karabo Mokoena and not even the chilling murder at the post office in Cape Town of Uyinene would've prepared me for a young pregnant woman being stabbed and hanged.

Who do we speak to in order to answer the question, senzeni na as women?

*Lebo Keswa is a businesswoman and she writes in her personal capacity