Media will not shy away from women, child abuse

03 September 2017 - 00:38 By SUNDAY TIMES

Regardless of what the Minister of Women in the Presidency, Susan Shabangu, would have us believe, violence against women and children is a crisis in this country. The sooner we all readily admit to that, the more likely we are to stop it. Research by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation revealed that about 20% of women older than 18 had experienced physical violence - and that a huge number of them lived in poor households.It further showed that failure by state institutions to act against the abusers and provide assistance to victims contributes to the persistence of such crimes.
As citizens, we can help to deal with this crisis by exposing such incidents of abuse whenever they occur, regardless of who the alleged perpetrators might be.In a toxic political environment where various warring factions within and outside government use dirty tricks to destroy one another, it is understandable that some would question the motive of those behind any exposé or scandal in the media. However, in doing so we must always put the interests of the victims first and insist that justice is served. If a prominent figure is accused of abusing a child or a woman, we cannot just accept their word when they cry "political conspiracy" and "smear campaign".
We should insist that they provide satisfactory responses to the allegations.
Sections of the media, including this publication, came under fire last week for covering a story accusing Independent Police Investigative Directorate boss Robert McBride of assaulting a young relative. There were attempts to paint the media as having fallen victim to a campaign by McBride's detractors in the police service. It might be that McBride's enemies have opportunistically taken up the case, hoping it would help them oust him. But journalists have a duty to report what happened and, since he has now been charged, McBride has an opportunity to clear his name before a court of law.

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