Debate in parliament: Women in all cases the victim of crime

2014-08-20
Dr Pieter Mulder

In the past, in most conflicts, it was women and children that suffered the most.

A few kilometres outside Bloemfontein a traveller will find the national Women’s Monument. The monument was unveiled in 1913 to commemorate those Boer women and children who died in British concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War. For every man that was killed on the battlefield during that war, nine women and children died in the concentration camps. At the monument the suffering of black women and children during the war is also acknowledged.

For eighty years the Bloemfontein Women’s Monument remained the only national monument in the world dedicated solely to women and children. That was until 1993 when the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, which adjoins the Memorial Wall, was unveiled in Washington DC. There are a great many monuments and memorials around the world which have women as primary focus, but for 80 years none except the monument outside Bloemfontein had national status.

I invite members to visit the monument with me. On either side of the centre obelisk two bronze friezes depict women and children suffering. On the one side you see women and children and their few belongings on their way to the camps. They were mostly transported in open rail carriages used for transporting cattle. On the other side the frieze depicts a company of women and children solemnly watching the death of a child in a camp tent.

In enige stryd is vroue en kinders gewoonlik die wat die swaarste kry. By die Voortrekkermonument, wat in die dertigerjare van die vorige eeu ontwerp is, het die argitek ook besluit om 'n vrouefiguur as sentrale figuur voor die monument te plaas uit erkenning vir die belangrike rol wat vroue gespeel het.

Die verlede is belangrik en ons durf dit nie vergeet nie. Tog is dit ons taak om besluite te neem vir die hede, nie die verlede nie. Ons moet besluite neem wat verhoed dat die verlede herhaal word en dat dit in Suid-Afrika beter gaan met vroue en kinders in die toekoms.

Ongelukkig is vroue vandag weer dikwels die slagoffers van geweld in ons samelewing. In Suid-Afrika word daagliks 150 vroue verkrag. Dit is een vrou elke 10 minute.

In plaasmoorde en ander rooftogte skiet die misdadigers dikwels die man dood. Die gevolg is dat daar tans duisende vroue-slagoffers in Suid-Afrika agterbly wat die trauma en probleme wat die moord veroorsaak het, moet hanteer. So moet die ma van Taegrin Morris tans die trauma verwerk van haar kind wat dood is na hy agter 'n motor aangesleep is. Ons het 'n Padongelukkefonds wat help om die slagoffers van padongelukke by te staan. Is dit nie moontlik om iets soortgelyks vir die onskuldige slagoffers van misdaad in Suid-Afrika te vestig nie? Waarom kan dit nie? Dit alleen sal al 'n groot bydrae maak om die posisie van vroue in Suid-Afrika te verbeter.

 

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