Sixteen Days of Activism against gender-based violence (GBV) is here.
While many of us are starting to lose hope that the scourge of violence against women will ever end, the next 16 days provide an opportunity to reignite some of that hope, reimagine new strategies and remind those oblivious few just how bad things are for the women of South Africa.
The brutal rape and murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana shook the nation.
Protestors flooded the streets, mourners stretched from Cape Town as far as East London and it was a shocking moment of reflection for us as a nation.
Fear among women grew with the #AmINext campaign. Women were reminded of just how vulnerable they were.
As for men, they were reminded that she was someone’s daughter in an attempt to try and rationalise with the male brain.
Having to remind men that she was a man’s daughter in an attempt to humanise her as if being a woman is not enough for the sympathy of a man.
To have to relate her to a man in an attempt to get men to be upset with the situation shows just how deep patriarchy and toxic masculinity runs in South African men .
This murder and the protests that followed occurred last August. What has happened since then?
Foundations have been laid and harsher punishments for sex offenders have been announced by the presidency.
However, rape is on the rise and femicide is still happening.
It is not safe for women in South Africa. We cannot blame women for feeling unsafe.
It is men that committed 53,293 rapes between April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020.
And let’s not forget the drastic increase reported during the level 5 national lockdown.
Uynene is just one of the victims.
There were 53,292 other rapes and acts of violence against women and there are an unknown amount of unreported crimes because the survivors of rape are simply too afraid to report crimes or don’t get the services that they need.
Some men still feel that movements like #MenAreTrash and #AmINext are uncalled for, but what else can women do to bring awareness to this scourge, to end this pandemic?
Women are screaming for men to stop the violence against women and children.
Men simply need to do better. But what can we as men do to fight this scourge?
Here are 10 things men can do to end men’s violence against women:
Acknowledge and understand how sexism, male dominance and male privilege lay the foundation for all forms of violence against women.
Examine and challenge our individual sexism and the role that we play in supporting men who are abusive.
Recognize and take a stance to end violence against women.
Remember that our silence is affirming. When we choose not to speak out against men’s violence, we are supporting it.
Educate and re-educate our sons and other young men about our responsibility in ending men’s violence against women.
Break out of the “man box” — challenge traditional images of manhood that stop us from actively taking a stand to end violence against women.
Accept and own our responsibility that violence against women will not end until men become part of the solution to end it. We all must take an active role in creating a cultural and social shift that no longer tolerates violence against women.
Stop supporting the notion that men’s violence against women is due to mental illness, lack of anger management skills, chemical dependency, stress, masculinity and so on. Violence against women is rooted in the historic oppression of women and the outgrowth of the socialisation of men.
Take responsibility for creating appropriate and effective ways to develop systems to educate and hold men accountable.
Create systems of accountability to women in your community. Violence and discrimination against women will end only when we take direction from those who understand it most….women.
Now is the time for men to take responsibility, now is the time for men to do the necessary work to make South Africa safer and now is the time for men to be men and not monsters.
Liam Parrish is a counsellor at Masithethe Counselling Services. Masithethe Counselling Services (formerly LifeLine East London) has been offering confidential and free counselling to residents of the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality since 1985. Contact number: 043-722-2000 or WhatsApp 084-091-5410