Furious blogger strikes a chord
Academic and poet Helen Moffett has been writing about women's rights for more than a decade. Her work has been translated into Spanish and published by the UN but, until last week, few South Africans knew of her.
Then Moffett, in a blog addressed to the government, let rip about her frustration, rage and despair at the conditions women in South Africa endure.
She pointed to "piles and piles" of money wasted celebrating Women's Day that could have been better spent helping NGOs that support women in a country whose rape statistics are exceeded only in nations at war.
Moffett directs her rage in particular at the Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, and the lack of funding for NGOs such as Rape Crisis Cape Town, which is threatened with closure. The Western Cape government apparently told it to "get in line" with other charities that need a bailout.
Published on Women's Day on the website Books Live, the blog "Take Your Women's Day and Shove It", has gone viral and has been retweeted hundreds of times.
"Thousands and thousands came to read it," said Books Live editor Ben Williams, who believes Moffett's anger at the government's waste of taxpayers' money has resonated with many South Africans.
About 8000 Facebook users had indicated that they "like" the post by midday yesterday.
"That Rape Crisis Cape Town is facing closure in Women's Month is the most sickening irony imaginable," said Williams.
Moffett tells the government: "Cancel the entire idea of Women's Month. What is the f***ing point?"
Moffett said she had expected hate mail after the letter's publication but had received "hundreds and hundreds of letters of support".
She hoped the overwhelming response would stir the Western Cape government into saving Rape Crisis with funding.
"One in nine women in South Africa will be raped and that is an intensely conservative statistic," she said.
"The government pays for fire engines and ambulances but you are far more likely to need the services of Rape Crisis .
"[Rape] will happen to somebody in your family or your neighbour's family. Rape Crisis needs funding," Moffett said.
"That [the threat of the closure of Rape Crisis] has happened when we have a female mayor and female premier blows my mind," she said.
In another post, Moffett said: "For 11 years, I've written reasoned, logical material on sexual violence, trying to do justice to the complexity of the issues.
"This material is taught at universities, and used by crisis organisations for training and manuals, but it seems to have bypassed the public until now."
'TAKE YOUR PATHETIC, POINTLESS WOMEN'S DAY AND SHOVE IT'
IN HER letter to the government, Helen Moffett rejects Women's Day as "pathetic, meaningless, mind-blowingly expensive and stomach-churningly patronising".
Moffett's frustration at the lack of action on fundamental issues that affect women appears to have found relevance with hundreds of South Africans. Below are extracts from the letter:
"Cancel the entire idea of women's month. What is the f***ing point?" she wrote.
"Trash that ridiculous, pointless, bloated Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities. It's no more than a particularly sanctimonious event-planning agency. The departmental mission? Ooh, women and children are getting raped and abused, they bear the brunt of criminally lousy education and brutal poverty: LET THEM EAT CUPCAKES!
"So ditch the pointless sodding public holiday (estimated cost to the economy: SEVEN BILLION). Stop bleating about the month of women. It's PATHETIC, considering it's open season on South African women 24/7, year in, year out. Our rape stats are a global disgrace, black lesbians have "carve me up and smash my brains in" signs stamped on their back, rural women and children live in relentless, grinding misery and poverty HUGELY exacerbated by patriarchal structures.
"Here's a better idea. Instead of the jamborees and a long weekend of more boozing and beatings and rapes, take the money - the obscene piles of it you intend to waste - and use it to fund Rape Crisis, which is having to CLOSE ITS F***ING DOORS because you don't think it's worth supporting, never mind that it does priceless work, not just in enabling women and their families to pick up their lives after they've been blown apart, but in taking an enormous burden off both the public health and the criminal justice systems.
"We are failing; no, betraying; no, ABUSING children by callously p*%$g away their only shot at an education, their ONLY chance for a life of decent employment, a form of abuse that will affect girls worse than boys."