By Tsundukani Zitha
It is very disturbing to find that after twenty three years of democracy in South Africa, so much violence against women and children in our society. Women remain vulnerable to all types of abuse, from emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, to economic and spiritual abuse. Although the government has implemented laws that deal with violence against women and children, this has not provided women and children with sufficient protection against daily abuse. Violence against women and children violates the Children’s Act, 2005, as well as human rights and the right to dignity as stated in the Bill of Rights (SA’s Constitution).
It is shameful that gang rape, taxi rape and domestic violence form part and parcel of violence against women and children. Although there are strong and courageous calls on women and children rights from any human rights groupings and individuals, committed to women empowerment and emancipation, there are still women who are silent about abuse. They are often fearful. Given the ongoing violence against women and children, campaigns aimed at fighting and eradicating violence against women and children should be held on daily basis not only during the sixteen days of activism against women and children abuse. The rights of women need to be protected daily, especially young women, as they are the future.
Children need to be taught from an early age that they should speak out every time they suspect abuse or they feel they are being abused. This will help in raising future leaders whom are well informed and empowered to deal with these and other issues of abuse and right’s violations. Children are especially vulnerable to abuse. They are often abused and later bribed with sweets so as to make them silent. Due to the arrogance from older people, a 14 year old pupil from Mpumalanga recently passed on. Such a case has left the country thinking about how to better enforce laws that were developed to protect children.
Justice must always be served without fear or favour. There are many laws that have been implemented to help fight violence against women and children, such as the Children’s Amendment Act 2007 and the Domestic Violence Act, 1998. There are also organisations dedicated to ending women and child abuse such as the National Council Against Gender Based Violence (NCAGBV), Thuthuzela care centres, child helpline, just to mention a few. People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) is also one of the initiatives that help fight violence against women abuse.
The fight against women and children abuse is not yet over. While it persists South Africa will never be a true democracy.
Tsundukani Zitha is a journalist student at the Tshwane University of Technology