18-Years of Freedom – In Pursuit of my African Dream . . .

“Freedom” – am I “free” . . .  or am I “dom”?

 Recent newspaper headlines:-

  • Rape accused is a member of SANDF (The Citizen: April 24, 2012: pg3)
  • Family murders on rise – stressed men are not willing to seek help (Sowetan: April 24, 2012: pg 2)
  • Women rape accused out on R1,000.00 bail – chaos as court officials put families of victims and suspects in the same room (The New Age: April 24, 2012: pg 2)
  • SA won’t be free until it’s women are truly free (Business Day: April 24, 2012: pg 11)

 Violence against women is at “crisis” levels, South African Minister says – The South African Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana recently called for Southern African countries to develop a comprehensive, holistic and integrated approach to end gender-based violence (GBV).

 At a recent 3-day summit (April 23 – 25 2012), organised by Gender Links under the banner “365 days of local action to end violence and empower women”, our Minister said that South Africa’s cabinet approved last November (2011) the creation of the National Council against GVB, chaired by the Deputy President. The Council’s official launch is scheduled to take place in August 2012.

The violence against women and children continues . . .

On 27 April 2012, we commemorate 18 years of freedom on National Freedom day – the national theme is “Working together to build unity and prosperity for all”.

Our Constitution (Chapter 2) under the Bill of Rights (paragraph 12) ensures us that we can expect to enjoy “freedom and security of the person” . . .

 How come I still don’t feel free? How come, as a physically disabled female, I still feel so enormously vulnerable, a soft target for any able-bodied person (male or female) out there?

How can I even think of celebrating 18 years of freedom when I still don’t feel totally free? Not going out after dark is not the only fear. I don’t even feel safe in broad daylight – let alone at night. My fear is two-fold : not only am I vulnerable and at risk because I am a female, I am also at risk because I have a physical disability which means that I am more vulnerable to being overpowered by someone even remotely stronger than I am – physical harm that could put me in a wheelchair for the rest of my life – if I survive, that is. Is that considered to be “freedom”?

Our government has done a wonderful job of putting all sorts of wonderful legislation in place. Our Ministers and other influential people are very vocal in terms of “we condemn any acts of violence” – especially when it comes to women and children, but, at the end of the day – what is being done about implementation of those policies and other forms of legislation?

In spite of wonderful training initiatives, our Police service still don’t know how to deal with a woman who has survived Gender Based Violence/Abuse/Rape etc. Many of them (mostly the men) still feel the women are to blame and brought their “misfortune” upon themselves. We still have church clergy who believe that an abused woman needs to go home to her husband and “turn the other cheek”. I could go on . . .

Why is it that I still don’t feel “free”?

 . . . and I think to myself: what a wonderful world . . .

Don’t forget to visit: http://www.womendemanddignity.co.za


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