Femicide and society
South Africa’s femicide rate is four times that of the global average. In spite of an evident increase in crimes by MEN, public institutions, government and the media continue to exempt men from responsibility by compelling women, to actively take charge of their own safety.
A government tweet (see picture) speaking out against violence in August was circulated widely because of the manner in which it was written. A social media user edited and re-distributed it to show how it can best communicate a message of condolences.
In a statement condemning violence against women, a local university said: “the times we live in dictate that women should be extremely vigilant and take preventative measures against various forms of assault”. Preventative measures? Do they mean measures such as, do not go to the Post Office during the day perhaps?
According to GIZ and United Nation Women, an average of 100 rapes are recorded daily and this does not account for unreported incidents. What kind of vigilance would be sufficient to redress such an alarming figure?
Even our statistics indicate how many children and women have been killed and raped. You would be hard pressed to find statistics that indicate how many men kill and rape. Would it not be interesting to note that, just maybe, for every five women killed, it is by one man? The South African law is equally discriminatory towards women, while granting men all their rights, even after they have confessed to crimes. In the case of Uyinene Mrwetyana, whose rape and murder has been the most public, but how many articles have you seen carrying the name Luyanda Botha? He confessed. Do you know what he looks like?
Two years ago, Zozibini Masha, known as wife of actor Tumisho Masha opened up about her pain of being abused in her marriage. The headline screamed, “Tumisho’s Masha wife opens up about her abuse”. At first, I thought Tumisho Masha was being abused by Zozibini.
Zozibini Masha “speaks out about her abuse”, why is the abuse hers, who has an abuse problem, who is the owner of the abuse, how do we get to a point where she can attributed to him “Masha’s wife”, but the abuse is attributed to her?
Luxolo Matomela, GIZ & UN Women’s Technical Advisor argues that, “the Media has an influential role on perceptions and discourse around gender dynamics in society. More importantly, the media can play a preventative and critical role in how people think about themselves and the world around them in relation to gender. Is the media playing that role effectively?
Matomela lamented the lack of prevention content when it comes to gender-based violence. The media reports, but no one pursues stories that seek to address the problem. The breakdown of topic categories shows that prevention constitutes 5% of GBV topic coverage in the news and 29% in children’s programming. Stories on where to get support constitute 16% of TV news stories.
During a Step It Up for Gender Equality Conference in Johannesburg, Nolwazi Tusini, journalist, writer and speaker and MC at the conference said, “The media plays a critical role in determining the route of public reaction. They have an absolute obligation to be part of the change that we need”.