Susan Shabangu says violence against women not a crisis

30 August 2017 - 17:02 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
Minister of Women in the Presidency Susan Shabangu does not believe violence against women is a crisis.
Minister of Women in the Presidency Susan Shabangu does not believe violence against women is a crisis.
Image: Kgaugelo Masweneng

The Minister of Women in the Presidency‚ Susan Shabangu‚ said that violence against women was not a crisis but a challenge that could be solved.

She said this during the launch of research findings on the prevalence of violence against women by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) in partnership with Oxfam South Africa on Wednesday in Braamfontein‚ Johannesburg.

"We are dealing with a monster which we think is starting now‚" said the minister.

The minister said that although a lot of work went into research and campaigns‚ the violence was still prevalent.

She said that the ability to reverse patriarchal relations depended on the collective commitment of society.

"I say violence in our society because we cannot speak of violence on women without addressing the violent nature of our society in general‚ said Shabangu.

"The brand of power and competition brought to us by colonialism also brought new forms of violence to the continent‚ mainly racist‚ classist and gender-based forms of violence".

Shabangu said that the preventive measures started at home.

"How do we behave when a neighbour attacks his wife. What do we do? We must condemn violence in its totality. I don't want to say we have a crisis‚ we have a challenge because then we can confront it‚" she said.

We need to have observers who go to court to support women in abuse cases come back to tell us what needs to improve.

"South Africans‚ please stop undermining yourselves. We are a country which can challenge the traditional cultural laws‚ don't be deceived‚ you've done a lot and will continue to do so‚" said Shabangu.

The research findings by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation sought to interrogate the question of why violence against women persists in South Africa‚ and what is needed to be done to address this? The research suggests that violence against women is a crisis.

The study found that amongst the most prevalent types of abuse was sexual violence and domestic violence‚ and that intimate partners are most likely the perpetrators.

The failure of government institutions to provide services and act against the abuse also played a role as women experience abuse in both private and public spaces.

Nonhlanhla Sibanda-Moyo‚ gender specialist at CSVR‚ said that the study found that women often shift the blame and victimise themselves.

"The study found that sometimes women allow abuse to happen and tend to victimise themselves by shifting the blame‚" said Sibanda-Moyo.

The image of the enduring (married) woman can make women susceptible to abuse. "The notion of marriage as a space of endurance‚ connected to economic security‚ social respect and religious beliefs‚" said Sibanda-Moyo.

Sibanda-Moyo touched on financial issues‚ that if a man is not financially stable he might abuse as a result of frustration‚ and that the concept of "blessers" can become a trap for abuse in pursuit of security.

These messages against abuse must bombard public spaces and in a way be militarised‚ she said.

Emily Tjale‚ acting director at Land Access Movement of South Africa (LAMOSA)‚ said that families should stop making abuse a secret.

"We say to our children‚ when granny farts‚ you keep quiet. We teach young people to keep quiet. We must talk about these issues. We as grandparents‚ we have a problem‚ our grandsons rape us and we defend them. I myself am a victim of verbal abuse and gossip‚" said Tjale.

The survey was done in four provinces: Gauteng‚ Limpopo‚ Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.

About 20 percent of women older than 18 had experienced physical violence‚ and 33 percent of them lived in poorer households‚ CSVR said‚ citing the 2016 Demographic and Health Survey.