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Author: Nthati Ramathibe | 26 November 2020
As we will be in celebration this festive, let us also remember the 16 days of activism against women and children. This is the real pandemic if you ask me. In the 31 years of life that I’ve had, I have been a bystander of one or two assaults going on in my neighborhood of Botshabelo. And as a child seeing such behavior, it did not only leave me traumatized it made me not want to associate myself with the male human species. And as a young girl I had to grow from that mentality and have a proper understanding of emotional intelligence. And in the these few encounters that I experienced thankfully the police acted promptly and arrived at the scene to not only stop the man from further beating his wife but to also protect her from this beast who was busy beating her up in front of everyone including us kids.
The media’s involvement
I believe that in order to tackle this epidemic we need to involve the media in a different way, positively so. Because lately I see a lot of negative reports more than the positives ones. We are not saying don’t report such cases for people to see, but the media also has a hand in what they report and to the people it seems as if they are promoting GBV than trying to tackle it. By using a method called framing effect, of letting us believe there are more monsters out there than there are real and good men out there. Leading us to believe that our brothers and fathers cannot be trusted. The ones who protect us
The media can start also including the faces of these perpetrators so the whole world could see them, not just of the victims.
The Government for solutions for its people
To give assurance to the victims and to those who have not reported their assaults, there must be systems in place to help victims to speak out more so that the perpetrators can be known. The Government needs to work hand in hand with police to also give proper training so that if someone comes to report a case they should be treated with utmost caution and sensitivity. The type of questions they get asked pending the investigation. There must be a system in place that works with home affairs so that when such cases get reported then the perpetrators ID can be linked to home affairs and SAPD.
There must be community workshops that teach little boys mannerism on how to treat women wherever they go, and seek help for those who have grown up in an abusive family. The Government could deploy Social Workers to deal exclusively with the victims and also the perpetrators for each one to find the necessary help they need. Because as it stands we are not sure of the necessary rehabilitation processes put in place in our prison systems and or psych hospitals.
The community at large should get involved and stop being bystanders when they see one of their own being abused. I am proud to say my community in Botshabelo has stood against GBV. I did see other communities as well standing together against this epidemic after kids were raped and murdered. As a community we should also lose this mentality of thinking only women and children are being abused. Because if you are an abused man you will not come forward with the fear of being a laughing stock of the community.
Based on Stats SA, almost 50% of the assaults were carried out by someone close such as a friend or acquaintance, 22% a spouse or intimate partner, 15% a relative or other household member (13%). Only 29% of the assaults were committed by unknown persons.
There has to be measures adopted to discourage this behavior altogether. Those that are found guilty of this barbaric act must be subjected to a punishment that would send a clear message that such individuals would be dealt with firmly, lawfully of course. There’s a need to entrench a good conduct in our communities, schools and religious are proving to be insufficient body to depend on to carry this out, our communities need to go back to basics where a child was raised b+ y a community and not only belonging to a set of parents. We need to act and conduct ourselves accordingly in front of the younger generation so as to plant a seed of compassion and self-love. We need to identify an external factor that influences people to behave and act inappropriately which leads to violent acts towards the vulnerable and those that seem as easy targets.
The level of response to reported cases must be improved to give confidence to silent victims who are discouraged by the incompetence of our Authorities that should be the guardians of our communities, regardless the social status or wealth one may have. Words alone are not enough to produce the much needed improvement and subsequently permanent change in behavior. Harsh action must be deployed, all year round and not to limit the seriousness of this pandemic to 16 days when we have rape, murder and torture cases being reported on daily basis