Friends & Friction: Use any means to end femicide

2019-09-17 12:45

There have been many discussions about how to end violence against women. First, violence against women is oppression of women, and second, women’s freedom should never be dictated by the whims of men.

Granted, my view of dealing with this topic is from a male perspective, which is a position of privilege.

All men are privileged when it comes to their relationship with women.

Some men may be on the arse-end of privilege, but like one who is in the back of a lorry, he is in a better place than he who is walking.

Men create violence and sadly the defenders of violent men are often women because, naturally, the monster is someone’s son, brother or lover.

Some men may be on the arse-end of privilege, but like one who is in the back of a lorry, he is in a better place than he who is walking

It was Judge Thokozile Masipa who found the killer of Reeva Steenkamp, Oscar Pistorius, not guilty of murder. She instead found him guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced him to five years in prison.

I will not get into the legal merits of that case because I am not qualified to do so, but it is a historical fact that the state appealed the case and Pistorius was found guilty of murder by a higher court. The sentencing was brought back to Judge Masipa and, as if to spite the court, the Steenkamps and the public, she added just one year to his sentence.

The prosecution went back to the Supreme Court of Appeals in light of what it considered to be a shockingly lenient sentence against the convicted murderer.

Violence against women is a male issue because it is not women who are killing women. Men are not affected by the effects of violence, much as a black eye does not affect the referee in a boxing match.

Men can easily form armies with guns, sticks and stones and embark on a murderous rampage. In their minds, the screams of a woman are no different from those she makes in a sexual encounter, and foolishly they do not see it as reason to stop.

An entire newspaper supplement could be written to explain why men are violent and we could easily blame every illness in society, such as apartheid violence and how it pushed our men to the bottom of the heap. But that would be a convenient lie because even men who have always been at the pinnacle of privilege, such as US Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh, have also been accused of sexual violence.

We must be willing to desecrate what Susan Sontag called “cherished pieties” in her essay titled Regarding the Pain of Others if we are to solve the problem of violence against women.

I grew up in a township which was prone to severe fits of violence. It is telling that the fear of going to hospital with a broken jaw was far more of a deterrent than the fear of going to prison. People would brazenly say: “I’ll do time for you.” Prison was blunted by the fact that good men – lawyers, teachers, preachers – were doing time for fighting apartheid.

Girls who had the fiercest fathers were the safest.

“Touch that girl and you’ll eat your food through tubes,” was the saying.

Read: #SandtonShutdown to JSE: You have the money to stop violence, femicide

One year was particularly bad. A new gang called the BBZ terrorised KwaThema. There was even a song we sang in Sesotho, asking:

“Men, men, where are the women?

They have all gone to Bophuthatswana;

They’re running away from the BBZ.”

It took a new policeman, who came from outside KwaThema, to cure the township of that bout of madness.

His name was Phillip and he single-handedly hunted down the leader of the BBZ, whom he cornered at his mother’s house and shot through the mouth as he begged for mercy.

There was relative peace as mothers of gangsters queued up at Phillip’s house, soliciting his wife’s support in begging the policeman to spare their sons.

Enough is enough. Femicide must be stopped by all means necessary.

Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

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February 23 2020