Why do perpetrators get a platform and victims don’t?

2018-08-09 11:13

We are more than a week into Women’s Month and already we’ve seen why gender-based violence advocacy is important, particularly with regards to the recent #TotalShutDown march.

Last week there was outrage on social media that convicted rapist Sipho “Brickz” Ndlovu was scheduled to perform at an event at the Soweto Theatre.

Promoters of the Mzansi Kwaito House Music Awards defended their decision to have Ndlovu perform, saying that the decision was purely about the music and that they weren’t lawmakers.

Convicted rapist Sipho "Brickz" Ndlovu during his sentencing at the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court on October 17 2017. Picture: Gallo Images / Themba Makofane / Daily Sun

Ndlovu was sentenced to 15 years in prison but is currently out on R80 000 bail while he appeals his conviction.

The promoters said that the performance was a means for Ndlovu to pay off his debt, as he owed them an undisclosed amount of money.

If he was able to afford R80 000 bail, surely there could have been alternative arrangements made?

This week, the same outrage was seen when a poster was circulated on social media showing an image of former ANC MP Mduduzi Manana, a convicted woman abuser, under a banner that read “legends united against gender-based violence”.

Organisers said that the event would afford the community with an opportunity to have an idea of perpetrators’ thoughts on gender-based violence and that perpetrators were needed to help formulate solutions.

Former deputy minister Mduduzi Manana outside the Randburg Magistrate’s Court after his sentencing on November 12 2017. Picture: Gallo Images/ Netwerk24/ Felix Dlangamandla

But how do we include people in a conversation who have displayed very little to no remorse for their actions?

How do we have a conversation with perpetrators when their voices are seen as more important than the victims or survivors?

It is the very reason that mass women’s marches are held because the voices of those that are abused wouldn’t otherwise be heard.

To give perpetrators large platforms like this is insensitive to those that have suffered and it is irresponsible to brazenly defend them.

It is careless to think that perpetrators can provide solutions - to issues that they are the direct cause of - without them being reformed.

The fight against gender-based violence is no doubt a joint effort between men and women; the voices of perpetrators cannot be stifled or ignored.

However, without introspection their voices do more harm than good.

Men need to do some introspection and cannot always rely on women to help them see why their actions are wrong.

Perpetrators cannot stand on public platforms and ask to be taken seriously when victims aren’t afforded the same without being vilified.

Victims and survivors, more than anything else, don’t need platforms, they need justice. To continue giving unremorseful abusers a platform is to continue undermining the crisis that is gender-based violence.

Ndileka Lujabe
City Press
p:+27 11 713 9001
w:www.citypress.co.za  e: ndileka.lujabe@citypress.co.za

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May 19 2019