Tag Archives: WarOnOurBodies

The war on women’s bodies.

23 May

The war on our bodies has been an ongoing struggle for decades, dating back to the 1970’s. People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) was formed in 1979 by a group of women volunteers in order to provide referral services and shelter to women experiencing domestic violence.
The word “jack-roll” or ‘jack rolling”, started during the 1980s by a gang called ‘the jackrollers’, it was the abduction of women in townships who would then subjected to lengthly periods of gang rape.

It was only after The Bill Of Rights was signed, did women receive formal recognition as equal citizens. For many years South African women were under the legal control of their fathers and husbands, this is still the same in many African countries.
The domestic violence act 116 of 1998 was signed: To provide for the issuing of protection orders with regard to domestic violence; and for matters connected therewith.

About ten years ago, somebody asked me when I will stop marching and pushing the anti-abuse campaign, my answer was when the abuse stops.

I have written many blogs on the state of affairs regarding rape and abuse in 2014 I wrote about a women who called out for help after she had been raped, she called on the police for assistance, her response came from the Hillbrow police station where six policemen( Men) were called to a rape case, they found the perpetrator and let him go. The survivor was present and requested medical attention, they denied that and told her to sleep it off as she had been drinking. I have highlighted on many cases where survivors have received ill treatment from police personnel when trying to report a case. Like many activists and organisations, this outcry and call has been the forefront of many campaigns, yet there has been very little change.
Over the past years we have seen the disrespect of women’s lives from the very publicised murder cases such as Oscar Pistorius, who killed his girlfriend Reeve Steenkamp and received a reduced jail sentence to Shrien Devani who was acquitted for murdering his wife Anna Dewani and Thato Kutumela who was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for the murder of his girlfriend, Zanele Khumalo. Former Soweto community radio presenter Donald “Donald Duck” Sebolai was sentenced to 20 years in prison for murdering his girlfriend, Rachel “Dolly” Tshabalala.
Unfortunately they have been hundreds if not thousands who have gone unnoticed.

Women in our present day still face many obstacles and challenges which can be related to poverty, violence and abuse in the home, unemployment, access to quality health care and legal representation.
Financial dependance of their male partners or husbands has increased vulnerability to domestic violence and rape.
The girl child has been greatly affected by the personal home front as well as discrimination at school, from the subject choices which have seen to be suitable fro male learners, girls have been sexually harassed, raped and abuse, some forced to drop out due to teenage pregnancy, possibly caused by rape. Many young girls miss school during their menstrual cycles as they cannot afford sanitary towels and tampons.

Over the past few weeks there has been in increase in reported crimes against women. These barbaric acts have been publicised and there has been a huge outcry from all sectors, that we need an intervention. This is true but we need to understand and own up to the fact that this has been on ongoing problem for years. The change that has occurred is that more incidents are being reported and now we hear a strong outcry from men.
The rate of crimes and murders that have escalated within the LGBT community. Due to the stigma attached many cases are not even heard and still remain unresolved.

Where to from now?
To start with, our men need to hold each other accountable. Many years ago I dated a man who’s business partner continuously made jokes about beating up women and this frustrated me, causing many arguments in our home. My then partners undermining attitude was that it was just a joke and I should get over it by response was and still is the same, if you joke about it, you condone the action. We need to create a shift in our conversations and attitudes towards women.

Gender equality starts in the home. There should not be gender specific roles for boys and girls, parents should be seen as equal. Children are taught and emulate what their parents do. Fighting in the home has proven to have lifelong effects on children. Many people decide to remain in abusive relationships as they feel that separation will affect the children, the violence and hatred is what affects the children.
If incidents happen at schools and remain unresolved, notify the department of eduction. No child should be scared to go to school or face any form df discrimination whilst trying to get an education.

The police need to be held accountable. Correct protocol measures need to be adhered with taking down reports, recording crimes and treatment of survivors.
We need harsher laws for rapists and abusers. Women need to stop being blamed for what happened to them. Victim blaming is still a major concern. I have made many reports and complaints to IPD with no response but if we get large number of valid complaints, then action will take place. Their contact details are:  
Address in Gauteng City Forum Building
 114 Madiba Street
 Pretoria
Telephone number: 012 399 0000

Email address

Complaints@ipid.gov.za

Our minister of police Mr Fikile Mbalula is very active on twitter: @mbalulafikile
 
Social media, should be used for good and not just scandal. If an incident occurs, recording it is necessary but so is justice. Record the dialogue and images but also record relevant information such as car number plates, what the perpetrator looks like, the exact location of where the crime takes place, such as a road sign, building structure etc
One should notify the police immediately and seek help for the survivor. We should make more citizen complaints, hold our police accountable. There are too many reported cased where investigating officers receive bribes and then in questioning the survivors, telling them that they should drop the case and convince them that they would not survive long trails. Granted trials are long and tedious and the incident will have to be repeated many a times but by keeping quiet will not help as the incident will still be repeated in your mind.

If you need assistance here are a few organisations that I have worked with and strongly endorse:

1. FEW: Forum For The Empowerment of Women
Call: +27 11 403 1906/7

Social media:
@forumfortheempowermentofwomen

Email
project1@few.org.za

Website:
http://www.few.org.za

FEW was established by black lesbian women activists living in Johannesburg in 2001.In a post 1994 South Africa and with the new constitution of 1996 recognising sexual orientation within the equality clause, it was clear that we had to organize ourselves to ensure that we were able to claim and live the rights entrenched in the constitution. Already, with increasing numbers of LGBTI people coming out and being visible both in everyday life as well as within human rights defending work, the age-old issues of discrimination, stigmatisation and marginalization were becoming more blatant. The group which initially began the conversation about organizing black lesbian women were concerned that within the broader LGBTI and women’s human rights issues, black lesbian women were more vulnerable because of intersecting identities, contexts and realities.
We also recognised the power within our community – both black lesbian women, women in general and the LGBTI community – to confront the abuses that were being perpetrated against us in a democratic South Africa. Initially, the focus was on social space and service provision, including counseling and information, education and communication on key issues, health and related realities of lesbian lives. A key focus was on the issue of hate crimes, particularly rape and sexual assault, which were being reported in growing numbers. The hate crimes were being perpetrated based on assumptions about sexual orientation and gender identity which were seen as deviant and so worthy of responses by communities. This homophobia was directed at all LGBTI people, but the targeting of black lesbian women for this “fixing” was obvious and linked to the patriarchal nature of our society which in turn fed heteronormativity. Projects included a small scholarship fund for survivors of hate crime related violence, drama and soccer as processes to engage with black lesbian women.

2. POWA: people Opposing Women Abuse:
Telephone: -11 642 4345/6
infor@powa.co.za
Twitter: @powa_za

POWA is a “feminist, women’s rights organisation that provides both services, and engages in advocacy in order to ensure the realisation of women’s rights and thereby improve women’s quality of life”.
POWA’s uniqueness as an organisation is in providing both services to survivors and engaging in advocacy using a feminist and intersectional analysis. Our work is rooted in the belief that change can only be said to be effective when women’s lives are directly improved through our interventions. We also believe that there is no single route to change, and thus constantly seek new and creative approaches in our programming to achieve the change we seek.

Frontline Services – Shelters, counseling, and legal advice
As one of our core frontline services, POWA provides shelter services for clients (and their children where relevant) who have been the victims of GBV. These services are located in the East and West Rand, and a “second stage” house is located in Berea. POWA also provides several forms of counselling to clients (including shelter clients), such as face-to-face counselling, support groups (facilitated by a social worker) and telephone counselling and referrals. The Legal and Advocacy Department at POWA also assist women (approximately 50 per month) with telephonic and face-to-face-legal advice to women, court preparation and support, and referral to other professionals and practitioners (pro bono).

Advocacy
The Legal and Advocacy Department at POWA works to “provide quality women-centred legal service and engage in national and regional advocacy for the protection and promotion of women’s rights.” POWA’s advocacy work includes advocating for legal reform, for example, parliamentary law reform submissions as well as strategic litigation. We actively participate in national advocacy. We are a member of the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR), a network of 26 Civil Society Organisations and Development Partners. In South Africa, POWA is the lead organisation spearheading the eight-nation Raising Her Voice Campaign, working to empower women to hold governments accountable to commitments on GBV and HIV.

Aluta Continua.

To continue the dialogue contact me via Facebook or twitter:
@RosieMotene.