It’s Time for Men to Drive Change

By Mandilakhe Marwanqa

Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is rife in South Africa yet, the trend of violence between intimate partners or spouses continues to wreak havoc and rear its ugly head in households throughout the country. According to an article by Mail & Guardian (December 2020), 51% of women in SA said they had experienced GBV, with 76% of men saying they had perpetrated GBV at one stage in their lives. A similar study revealed that 1 in 5 women reported that they had experienced violence at the hands of their partner.

Furthermore, the statistics provided by the SAPS Crime Stats for 2019/2020 paint a very gloomy picture; they do not inspire any confidence nor hope – a chilling reminder that the war against GBV is far from won. 53 293 sexual offences were reported which translates to an average of 146 per day, up from 52420 in 2018/19.

Most of these were cases of rape. SAPS recorded 42 289 rapes in 2019/20, up from 41 583 in 2018/19, an average of 116 rapes each day. Meanwhile, SA’s femicide rate is 5 times higher than the global average, having the 4th highest female interpersonal violence death rate out of the 183 countries listed by the World Health Organisation (2016).

The issue of Tshegofatso Pule’s Court Case is showing how women are being belittled by our law/government. It begs the questions: “How can you release the perpetrator on bail or even consider having negotiations of a 2nd bail hearing; what about the safety of Tshegofatso Pule’s  family and what kind of justice is that to the family and any other woman in the country? How will releasing him make things easier for the investigating team, or anyone else affected by this?”

As a democratic country, we owe ourselves time to sit down and have transparent talks about this matter – not only that – we need to implement already existing strategies to curb the scourge of GBV. As things stand, South African’s hold no sense of accountability because the law protects perpetrators’ rights.

Furthermore, the war against GBV is aggravated by the fact that during the 1st lockdown alone, the South African Police Service received 2300 GBV related calls. At the start of lockdown level 3, 21 women and children were murdered in two weeks, leading to the President citing two devastating epidemics: Covid-19 and GBV. And yet, there were only 204 convictions after GBV related calls increased to 5082.

At the root of this problem is the necessity of the community and families which make up that community to work hand-in-hand with the SAPS. It is of no use to capacitate the police if families continue with the culture of solving GBV-related cases without the intervention of the law. Most importantly, it is time for men to take an active stand against GBV and drive change in their communities.

The case has been postponed to April 22 to allow the state to respond to Shoba’s application.

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