South African women are in a war situation

The woman in this photo are one of the lucky ones – she survived the beating.

A conversation on Facebook yesterday, sparked so much passion and fire in my soul, that I need to blog about it. In my private practice I often hear stories of abuse and maybe this is why the conversation had so a profound effect on me.

A friend of my shared with me an article on honor killings of women in Canada. There was huge outcry in Canada because 12 women were murdered by their fathers or brothers to protect their family’s honor. This is appalling and I do not want to detract to the horror of it. However, it made me think about our situation in South Africa (SA).

In South Africa, every SIX hours a woman is murdered by her intimate partner. EVERY SIX HOURS. Let us do the math: that is four women a day, 28 women a week, 112 women a month, 1456 women a year. One thousand four hundred and fifty six women (daughters and mothers of someone) are killed by their intimate partners! Yet, our government and civil society look the other way. It is not spoken about. There are not daily news casts or paper headlines about this. It is almost as if we just accept this is how it is for women.

I believe that as long as we are silent about this, as long as we tolerate patriachal mindsets, as long as we look the other way, was long as we do not challenge, as long as we accept inequality, that is how long we are complicit to this atrocity – knowingly or unknowingly.

When we accept abuse, in which ever form, we are allowing it to continue unchallenged. Looking at the above mentioned stats convinced me that SA women are in a war, an unspoken war, and often the aggressors are the men who they love. However women have very little support and often no means to defend themselves:

  • By the time of death one out of two women in SA will be raped.
  • One out of three girls are raped or sexually assaulted before the age 18.
  • Women in South Africa have a greater chance to be raped than to learn to read.
  • The threat of “corrective” rape is very real for lesbian women in SA.
  • Every six hours a woman is killed by her intimate partner.

The vast majority of perpetrators of violence against women are their men, often their husbands. Yet our churches continues to prescribe the husband’s role as that of head, leader and priest of the home. Wives are supposed to submit and honor, to be subservient, and to accept the husband as the head of the home.

WHAT ARE WE THINKING? Or maybe I should ask what are we doing? Some call me fanatical, some call me a feminist, some call me a activist. Call me whatever you want but please MEN and women stand with me against this violence and senseless killing. Make people aware of the problem in our society. Start with ‘ant steps’ – i.e. when you receive a sexist e-mail, challenge it, when you hear a joke which demean women (or men) call it out, do whatever you can, but please do not be silent on this matter.

Read a previous post of mine:

Please also look at these links:

4 thoughts on “South African women are in a war situation

  1. Dankie Nicki You know that I stand alongside you on this one. I am astonished at how apathetic people are about abuse, but if we, even a few take a stand we can make a difference.

    • Mike if only more men could think and live like you! I honor you for your support of and respect to women and how you journey with them. In solidarity we stand. Blessings.

  2. I am furious!! I was also in an abusive relationship when I was a teenager, and was vrbally abused and once physically. I am now in a beautiful relationship, with a stable, loving and incredibly respectful man- yes, there are still a few of them out there. But what can we do to prevent men from hurting us? How can we help each other? I knw most men who abuse are cowards, because woman are supposedly “weak and helpless”. But we don’t need to be. We can also become lethal weapons, and be prepared to protect ourselves? Is there no way to train a woman to protect herself against even the most lethal attacks?

    • Dear Danette,thank you for sharing your story of a changed life with us. It is stories like these that encourage women to leave abusive relationships. Thank you for standing in solidarity with me and many other women and men against gender-based-violence against women. There is a lot that we can do. The first thing is by speaking out. We can also support electronic campaigns against abuse and local organisations. I believe that one of the most important ways to stand against abuse is to expose the discourses that feed and allow abuse, namely patriarchal mindsets. Abuse is about power and control. Often women are seen as less than men, and therefore they need to be subservient and submissive.

      Women’s dignity is undermined by things as subtle as a ‘innocent joke’. Many of such ‘jokes’ are passed on via the internet or text messages. Challenge these ‘jokes’ whenever you feel that it demean women. Challenge comments and make people aware that if women are depicted as less than, it is part of a patriarchal discourse. You might find my post, “Why do I stand against patriarchy” interesting. I am also just finishing a book on my research. Unfortunately is will first be published in Afrikaans, but as soon as it is translated, I will let you know.

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