Archive | March 2013

“Thou shalt not…

“Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.” – Yehuda Baeur


Bert Oliver’s view on violence against women in South Africa.

Bert Oliver’s view on guns, patriarchy, and gender based violence

This article portrays the way in masculinity in South Africa has always been tied to violence. It also highlights the fact that we live in a an extremely patriarchal society, where stereotypes regarding gender roles are enforced. It in is the way that our society is structured and formed that creates a certain way of thinking in our country.  Masculinity has been constructed in a specific way that creates a perception of what the “ideal man” should be. Men are often associated with being strong, virile, and the head of the family, or the “breadwinner”. Women have been stereotyped as soft, naturing, and less powerful. Their role is to be a good wife and mother. It is this outdated view that persists that I feel is contributing to gender based violence in South Africa.

Oliver  also notes that men in our country often feel powerless and frustrated. This is because they cannot perform their role that society has given them. It could be that they are unable to find jobs, or poverty is a problem, or they are unable to assert their power in their work place, that leaves the South African man needing a place for his anger. This anger is directed at those who are seen as weak and vulnerable, thus women are the obvious target. This may be a generalisation, but it is a theory that could be true. Masculinity is very much linked with violence, and this is emphasized by the media. Children are raised in a certain way so that they learn their gender role and what is expected of them from a young age. Boys are taught to play with toys such as guns, and girls play with dolls.

It is also the past of our country that has contributed to the way in which we think about gender roles in our society. Apartheid was the ultimate oppression of the black man and his masculinity. It was a constant power struggle and I feel as if the power struggle never truly went away. As long as this type of thinking is kept in our society, gender based violence may only become worse. Women need to be seen as equals, and not so feeble and weak. It is the fact that women are seen as these easy targets that is making them so vulnerable to attack. If women were seen in the same way that men are seen, it would probably decrease their chances of becoming victims of awful situations. South Africa needs to re-examine their ideals regarding gender and gender roles in our society. Women and men need to be seen as equals. Gender based violence needs to be seen as an unacceptable crime with severe punishment.


Christopher Hope on guns, Oscar Pistorius, and our society of violence.

Christopher Hope’s article about violence in South Africa

This article that was published on the Mail & Guardian’s website on the 1st of March portrays some interesting insight to the Oscar Pistorius case and the way in which gun use occurs in our country. Hope has made several points about our society and its link to violence. It is distressing that just because of the fact that Oscar Pistorius is a celebrity, his case makes news headlines internationally and causes a stir nationwide. Although it is also a tragic case of a young woman whose life had to end in such a sudden and awful way, there are many cases that end with a woman meeting her fatal death at the hands of violence.

Reeva Steenkamp was a beautiful and successful woman and her family  are suffering everyday thinking about the devastating way in which they lost her. It is another story to add to many of women being victims of gender based violence. Even though Pistorius claims he thought it was an intruder, at the end of the day an innocent woman lost her life. Hope makes a point in his article, stating that the only reason this caused such a public reaction was because of the people that were involved. It seems as if the public and the media would not have cared as much, or made such a fuss about the incident, if it had been just “another shooting somewhere in South Africa”.

We as a society have become so used to seeing news that relates to murder, rape and violence, that it is as if nothing shocks us anymore. Violence is normalized in our country and this is the problem. Hope mentions that guns are “on the brain” as they are everywhere in South Africa, even though the law regarding firearms is strict. Even if it is just the fact that we feel the need to have a weapon in order to protect ourselves, it still shows that willingness to kill. Hope makes the statement that “celebrity always trumps tragedy”, and although the Oscar Pistorius’s case was tragic, the only reason why it caused such a frenzy is because of who he is. This whole idea of this heroic Paralympic athlete who was seen as an inspiration to many South Africans, and people all over the world, had this terrible fall from grace and that is what was so “embarrassing”, as Hope puts it.

It is important to view this incident not just as Pistorius’s loss of reputation, but also as a symbol of all the violence that takes place in our country. It should raise awareness to the fact that South Africa is a culture of violence and stimulate thought and bring about activism and change.

Zapiro’s Cartoon of Anene Booysen’s Story

Zapiro's Cartoon of Anene Booysen's Story

This cartoon illustrated by Jonathan Shapiro was published on the Mail & Guardian’s website on the 8th of February 2013. This cartoon displays Anene Booysen as an innocent school girl who is fading into the background as if to say she has become invisible, and her voice cannot be heard. This is symbolic of the way that her devastating story should not be placed in the spotlight for a short period of time and then ignored and swept aside. Her case should be seen as a tragedy that should encourage change and place pressure on the government to take immediate action.

Zapiro has re-created the First National Bank logo and slogan, and has made the slogan “The Constitution. How the hell can it help you?” as if to say that although the constitution is in place, it does not seem to make a difference. Our human rights are constantly violated and violence is still rife in our country. This cartoon can be seen as a call to action not only for the government, but also for the public. Many protests, marches and public action did take place after the incident, and some have already been mentioned in my previous blog posts.

One march was held by the Bredasdorp residents’, Democratic Alliance, and the ANC Youth League in early February to show their indignation of the incident. The protesters called for strict punishment of those who are found guilty of committing the crime. This shows that even political parties can come together to mourn the tragic loss and also to show their support to help  new violent free South Africa emerge. The issue is definitely a social problem rather than political, however actions need to be taken by the government in order for this issue to be dealt with.

Here is some video footage from the event:

There was also a vigil held by St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. This was attended by the singer and song-writer Annie Lennox, who calls for South Africa to keep on tackling the issue with the same force that has been shown. This is similar to Zapiro’s plea to keep the public’s eye on the issue until something is done, not until the next horrific ordeal occurs. Lennox states that just letting the issue go and waiting for the next terrible rape would be the worst outcome, as reported by IOL News.

It is clear that Zapiro and Lennox feel the same way. They both send out the message that this ordeal should not cause a stir for a short period of time and then be forgotten. It is important that actions are taken by the government as well as the public to help South Africa recover from being such a violent society.

Gasa’s article

Gasa’s article

Here is a link to the article written by Nomboniso Gasa that I referenced in my previous post.

The shocking case of Anene Booysen

The shocking case of Anene Booysen

The horrific case of Anene Booysen’s gang rape, disembowelment, and death is one that has shaken South Africa, and also made international news. This news clip attached from the eNews Channel Africa, shows the devastation of Anene’s mother and explains the injuries that had occurred from the attack. This clip portrays to the public the emotion experienced by rape victims and their families that is often not displayed to the public. This allows us to not just view this appalling crime as another rape that adds to the statistics in South Africa. This is a real tragedy that happened to real people in our courtry.

The fact that the seventeen year old’s life had to end in such a barbaric manner leaves many people questioning our morals and values as a society. It leaves one with a sense of desperation for the future of our country. As a woman living in South Africa, it was absolutely terrifying to hear about this incident. It left me feeling completely hopeless, and in addition knowing that many cases like Anene’s occur daily without being reported, is a fact that is frightening.

Nomboniso Gasa, the programme manger of the Council for the advancement of the South African Constitution, speaks out in the video clip, pleading with the government to take more responsibility regarding issues of violence in our country. In another article written by Gasa entitled “Anene Booysen: a mirror of our society” published in The Sunday Independent on the 11th of February, she discusses the way in which she feels South Africa is “rape friendly”. Gasa mentions that the punishment for sexual offenders in South Africa should be harsher and that the justice system should deal with this issue more effectively.

She states that this case, out of the thousands that unfortunately occur everyday in our country, is a symbol of all those who have suffered rape and abuse. It seems as if Anene Booysen’s case is the breaking point that has caused a public outcry. Moreover the issue of “who is to blame” always seems to come into question regarding sexual violence. Gasa mentions that public figures have made numerous comments on how women should dress and who they should associate themselves with.

This reminds us of the terrible incidents that have occurred in the past at the Noord Taxi Rank in Johannesburg, where women have been victims of sexual violence due to the way in which they dress. Gasa feels that this sends out mixed messages to the public regarding the issue of women’s rights. It should not happen, no matter what the circumstances are. President Jacob Zuma made the statement that no woman or child should have to face rape anywhere in South Africa. This was said at the Glendale Secondary School’s protest against rape in Cape Town, as reported by the Mail & Guardian. The fact of the matter is that this issue needs to be addressed in our country. It is a pity that it took such a tragic incident to make people more aware of the urgency of the situation.