By Linda Pona
We have had much to celebrate during Women’s Month, yet there is that dark cloud that continues to hang over us, and that is the violent ways that women live and the violent ways they die.
This week, Grocott’s Mail reported that the corpse of a 34-year-old mother of two, Phakama Tshobo, was found burned in her shack. As a result of this tragedy, women from the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) membership and executive leadership visited her home to pay condolences to her family for her tragic death. Although police dispute the family’s claims that she was raped and murdered by her partner, such occurrences have become the norm in South Africa and the world.
In another story, the corpse of 65-year-old Jongiwe Nancy Matshoba was found in U-Street. Police say there are no visible wounds on the body, so the cause of death cannot yet be determined whether there was foul play or if she died from natural causes. Either way, it should not be seen as expected that the corpses of women are found in the street or in their own homes. This is because the statistics are too high for violence against women and children.
Statistics show that 35% of women worldwide have experienced physical, sexual or intimate partner or non-partner violence. The statistics also show that globally, 7% of women have been sexually abused by someone who is not their partner. The statistics further highlight that at least 38% of women murdered in these crimes have been committed by intimate partners. Moreover, 200 million women have experienced female genital mutilation.
With so much violence against women, it is often the women who stand up against gender-based violence (GBV); however, this week, the Singamadoda Men Empowerment Spaces held an anti-GBV programme at the Indoor Sports Centre in Joza. The programme’s founder, Simo “Mawawa” Ndyoko, said they “wanted to equip the community, especially grown men, because most of the time it is them who are usually involved in GBV”. This dialogue shows that such men are willing to take responsibility and accountability for GBV. I
believe that more of these dialogues must occur, especially among men. There must be accountability for such crimes against women. Perhaps then, the systems that have failed us before will start making things right so that we are not always paying condolences when it is too late.