Freedom Front Plus
Freedom Front Plus

Government must lead from the front by taking decisive action to combat violence against women and children

(Debate in Parliament: 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children)

Gruesome headlines in the media this past week about incidents of violence against women and children bear a sad testament to the fact that attempts to rid the South African society of this form of violence have, thus far, not been successful.

Tomorrow marks the start of yet another period of 16 days of raising awareness and activism for no violence against women and children and the chances of achieving success seems just as slim as before.

The authorities did indeed try to make a difference with, for example, additional courts for sexual offences, special training for police officers, a toll-free emergency number, safe houses and much more.

And yet it seems that these steps made no difference whatsoever. These are mere cosmetic attempts to address a much more complex and deep-rooted problem.

Gender violence is a deeply ingrained disease in the South African society that will not be cured if the symptoms are not treated correctly.

Whether they be socio-economic circumstances, psychological reasons, the abuse of alcohol or other substances, harmful gender stereotyping or combinations of these – no budget, safe house or plan will make any difference.

A government cannot control people's thoughts and behavioural patterns, but it can do something about the environment that shapes it, like the socio-economic circumstances, the use of dangerous substances and even gender stereotyping.

One example is Affirmative Action (AA), which reinforces the wrong impression that women of colour are not inherently able or competent to fill certain positions.

On the one hand the government says that it advocates for gender equality, while on the other hand, it denies others equal economic opportunities by means of legislation that discriminates based on race.

The government’s trampling of women of minority groups' economic rights, which means that these women do not quality for bursaries to study, jobs and tenders, comes down to institutionalised violence against women of certain groups.

If the ANC truly is serious about equality, also on economic level, it must first sweep its own doorstep and start treating everyone the same. Until that happens, all its attempts to uplift and protect women will be void of credibility.




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