WOMEN AND CHILD ABUSE: A MENACE IN SOUTH AFRICA
By: Bekhekile Khuphe
Women and child abuse has been and still is a big problem in South Africa as thousands of women and children fall victims every year. The excessive levels of this situation have kept many organisations worried about the future of South Africa.
According to the Independent Democrat (ID) website, one in every three women will be raped once in their lifetime. The reports futher highlighted that babies as young as three weeks old are being raped more often that not.
The ID raised concerns that it is sad that today’s justice system is a bit lenient on rapists, considering the fact that some cases are postponed to a year or even two. To try to solve this matter, it would be a great idea if a life sentence was considered to those convicted of rape.
G.S. Myeza, a professional nurse at the Durban University of Technology, explained about women and child abuse. She said that it involves domestic violence, rape and there are causes that make women tolerate assault from men.
“Hunger and poverty in most cases are the causes that would make a woman continue living with a man that abuses him. It would be hard for such a woman to report that she is being abused because she has nowhere to go,” Myeza noted.
As a nurse at an institution for young people, she said the youth should raise awareness back in their communities about women and child abuse.
“They have better knowledge about this situation and they know of its scourge, so they have to go back to their communities and educate them on [the] effects that abuse has in one’s future if not reported,” she said.
Sadly, these abuses have far reaching concequences. Life becomes very difficult for a child who grows up in an environment where violence is their daily bread. It affects such a child emotionally, physically and mentally. Such a child would even struggle academically.
Nivashni Nair Sukdhev, the KwaZulu-Natal Bureau Chief and senior journalist at The Times, also the Vodacom journalist of the year award winner for covering a story on women and child abuse last year, said that it is sad that these cases are piling.
“Despite writing a story that helped one woman, at times, I, like most South Africans, feel helpless, angry and ashamed. Each day we read about the horror that takes place in so many homes every day…. and we know there are many more that go unreported,” she said.
In August last year she worked on a package about a story of Tina Mbili and her son who were being abused by an ex-lover.
The story was telling of a woman’s life that represented thousands of South African women out there who have been victims of abuse.
“Through our stories, Tina became a beacon of hope for women trying to get away from their abusive partners, a symbol of survival and a sought after guest for radio and televisions,” Sukdhev said.
Mbili was beaten by her ex-lover and even her son was assaulted too. According to an article that appeared on Times Live in August last year, Tina used to live in fear as her husband would be arrested and released from jail within a short space of time. Whenever she tried to run away from him, he would follow her and beat her. She never felt safe.
She didn’t have anywhere to run to, not even the media because at times the media can only expose but not be able to carter for the victim’s day to day needs.
“One of the roles of the media is to educate. However, we must be realistic about what makes the newspaper and what doesn’t. Often stories of abused women are reserved for Women’s Month or when there is bloodshed and death. I believe the media must frequently educate women on their rights and their options. Not all women are brave like Tina, but their stories must be told, as it will help to empower them and others in the same position. The media must keep reminding South Africa that as a society we have a duty to stand up against domestic abuse,” she said.
The government and united South African communities should continue giving serious attention to this issue of abuse. It becomes difficult for a child or a woman abused in any form to cope again with a normal life. Counseling needs to be provided at early stages after abuse to save lives of those abused. Some may think reverting to suicide is the answer, which is not.