In a highly “gender-unequal and patriarchal country like South Africa, violent and entrenched masculinities legitimise men’s power over women,” Masimanyane Women’s Rights International representative Xolelwa Pona said at a dialogue on gender-based violence held at Nkqonkqweni Primary School recently.
“This exacerbates sexual violence, and naturally, women have severe anxieties about the repercussions and backlash if they speak out.
“So why don’t girls and women come forward to tell their stories of sexual assault?
“Research shows the reasons are complex and influenced by a web of inter-related, socio-psychological factors. These include feelings of shame and humiliation, self-blame,
fear and even denial. These are influenced by the prevailing patriarchal and cultural norms of societies and communities that suppress,silence and shame these girls
Pona said the purpose of the dialogue was to educate communities on how the justice
system worked in terms of the processes aimed at addressing GBV. “This dialogue has
given opportunities to community members to clarify any misinformation and misunderstandings they have around gender-based violence cases and to strengthen existing GBV coordination in the identified wards on monitoring the outcomes and commitments of stakeholders,” she said.
Pona said the programme was proposed after Masimanyane had worked within the communities of several BCM wards.
“The cries of the communities regarding the failure of the justice system to provide them with closure on the cases which are reported are becoming louder and this is exacerbated by the lack of information on the justice system processes,” she said.