1 Year After the #Totalshutdown-Why are women still not feeling safe?

 In Gender Identity, Politics

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a topic that has received increasing attention again due to the increasing numbers of women and children dying in the hands of men. Therefore, 2018 was marked as the year to end gender-based violence against women and children in South Africa. which give birth to #Totalshutdown, but unfortunately a year later after the #Totalshutdown march women and children are still murdered and, still find themselves in the same conditions as before.

The #Totalshutdown movement listed 24 demands to the Ramaphosa. One of the demand that stood-out was ‘the establishment of accountability and oversight mechanisms to ensure that an adopted National Action Plan is implemented.’ One of South Africa’s biggest problem is implementation, no mechanisms are put in place to ensure a plan of action and this is a critical issue, mainly because of the increased number of women dying because of GBV after the demands were put in place by the movement.

A staggering four out of ten (4/10) LGBT South Africans know of someone who has been murdered “for being or suspected of being” lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Devastatingly enough, black members of the community are twice as likely (49%) as compared to white respondents (26%) to know of someone who was murdered on these grounds. The risks are particularly high for black LGBT people in rural areas because of the sexual stereotype that exist in rural areas.

Increasing number of LGBTQIA persons are being victimized and out-casted in society mainly because of their sexual orientation; these numbers are very high, and a plan of action should be put in place for prevention whether in the rural or urban areas.

In South Africa alone, the murder of women and rape is unacceptably high compared to the global average. According to the South African police services statistics, it is reported that 80% of reported sexual offenses were rape, 68.5% of the sexual offenses victims were women. This figure is amongst the highest in the world, some have even labelled South Africa as the “Rape-Capital” of the world.

In 2018 after the #Totalshutdown historic march in August 1, President Ramaphosa was under-pressure to convene a national summit to address on the state of GBV in South Africa. He Immediately set up an Interim Structure, which was founded, with the eventual objective of establishing a national multi-stakeholder Council.

The composition of the Council had to be inclusive with a representative consideration of at least 51% civil society and appointments had to be transparent. The interim structure had to establish a functional Council within six months which the President would champion and ensure adequate resources are put in place for its optimal functioning, subsequent legislation had to govern its operations.

Unfortunately, since then, the number of victims missing and coming back in body bags has only increased, with no clear indication on the work done by the interim Structure. But, alarming numbers of safe shelters for women and children continued to close-down during that same period and still now. This also shows the lack of implementation from the government, because a large part of the 24-demands from the memorandum of the #Totalshutdown focused on the support of safe shelters for women and children.

Violence against women and children (VAWC) is arguably one of the most critical challenges facing South African society today. Research undertaken by the Medical Research Council, in three provinces, revealed that 25% of women had experienced physical violence at some point in their lives. Other studies estimate that between 43% and 56% of women in South Africa have experienced intimate partner violence and 42% of men report perpetrating it. Police statistics reflect 45,230 contact crimes against children, including 22,781 sexual offences reported to SAPS. By their nature, statistics on VAWC are believed to be gross underestimates of the true extent of VAC in the country.

It has been estimated that only one in nine (1/9) women report incidences of sexual violence. Despite significant legislation in place to protect women and children against violence, and several key integrated plans and strategies aimed at eliminating VAWC, violence remains a feature of many women and children’s lives in South Africa. VAWC is often viewed as a criminal justice issue in South Africa, with the emphasis on response over prevention.

Our focus on survivors has only pointed out an ‘implementation gap’ between the country’s strong VAWC. The majority of coordination structures for Violence against women and children appear duplicative or ineffective and do not facilitate an integrated government response to VAWC.

There is heavily reliance on donor funding from private-sector and Non-Profit Organisations which brings into question the government’s priority. financial sustainability of VAWC programmes and services’ Acts, policies and plans are typically not budgeted for and are inadequately funded as a result. In short, lack of funding is evident that the government has not heeded to the call of fighting GBV and VAWC in this country.

“The State currently only provides a small percentage, (in most instances less than a third) of the cost per head of each woman and her children at a shelter. There is a need to engage in a cost-benefit analysis in this regard. As part of this exercise, government should conduct quantitative and qualitative research into the economic cost of domestic violence to the State. In addition, there is a need to ensure that adequate resources are appropriated for infrastructure, facilities, human resources with appropriate skills and training, the creation of supportive contexts and structures and all forms of practical support needed to survivors in the form of counselling, access to health care, etc. Currently, the allocation of resources to survivor’s support, specifically the support provided by shelters, is generally inadequate and serious intervention is required if government is committed to addressing gender-based violence.

Violence against women and girls is rooted in gender-based discrimination, the social norms and gender stereotypes that perpetuate violence. Most efforts have mainly focused on responses and services for survivors but the best way to end violence against women and children is to prevent it from happening in the first place by addressing the root and structural causes.

We need to address the core issues around inequality and what give birth to it, this means challenging the system of oppression against women and the girl child.

The is a need to focus on male dominance and toxic masculinity and how capitalism feeds on male dominance. Male domination cannot be reduced to a sum of individual acts of discrimination. It is a coherent system that shapes all aspects of life, both collective and individual.

The capitalist system’s propensity to reorganise the economy on a global scale to its own profit has direct repercussions on gender relations. Analysis of its methods shows that, on the one hand, the capitalist system feeds on a pre-existing system of oppression – patriarchy – and on the other, it compounds many of its defining characteristics.

The oppression of women is a tool which enables capitalists to manage the entire workforce to their own profit. It also enables them to justify their policies when they find it more profitable to shift the responsibility for social welfare from the State and collective institutions to the “privacy” of the family. In other words, when the capitalists need extra labour, they call upon women whom they pay less than men, which has the side-effect of dragging down wages generally.

This means that the State is forced to provide services to facilitate women’s jobs or allow them to offload some of their responsibilities. Then when they no longer require women’s labour, they send them home, back to their “proper place” in so-called-patriarchal terms. This system is not only a problem to the implantation of generating safe spaces for women in South Africa, but it is the root of the problem.

With the problems at hand we really need to establish a structural way of preventing rape culture and femicide from happening which also means dismantling of the system of capitalism completely.

This can happen in many forms, we can start by educating young boys and girls respectful relationship and gender equality, develop a formal curriculum in schools to engage young people in efforts to prevent and end violence against women and girls. Moreover, since capitalism oppress men and women it is important that we join forces to fight against the system of oppression that capitalism has normalise.

We need to engage our traditional or cultural norms that promote violence and toxic masculinity, which will involve continuous engagement with traditional leaders. There is a serious need to engage our traditional and social norms now. Not only prevent a continuous femicide but to make South Africa a safe space for you women and the next generation.

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