So, shall we have another miniskirt march and bring the taxis in Joburg to a standstill for the day? It was done five years ago, in 2012, after a taxi mob harassed at length two women in short skirts. Then Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane, and ministers Lulu Xingwana (women) and Bathabile Dlamini (social development) led the march, and said women had the right to dress the way they wanted, deserved to have their rights respected at taxi ranks, and "real men" didn't rape women.
Then on Wednesday, Eyewitness News reported the four-hour ordeal of a woman who was allegedly robbed and raped in front of her 10-year-old by a gang in a taxi. More women came out to tell about similar ordeals, and Kaya FM reported that the terrorising of women by taxi gangs was a trend.
There are doubtlessly more such stories out there.
One of the themes in this reporting is that the police have been very slow to act, but they seemed to have been spurred to action by the reports on the media. "Sometimes it feels like our justice system is not there for us," one of the women told EWN.
The police have subsequently promised to take action and arrested three men and a woman on Friday.
KayaFM News has just learned that 3 Men and a Woman have been arrested in connection with the #TaxiRape case.— Kaya FM News (@KayaNews) March 24, 2017
Transport Minister Dipuo Peters also condemned the violence and said should the taxis be found to be from registered operators, action should be taken.
Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane has also spoken out and met with taxi associations in Johannesburg to ask them to help bring the perpetrators to book.
Well done to the leaders for that.
So far, though, political parties have been slow on the uptake. There's not been a peep from the ANC Women's League (which kind of makes you wonder what difference they hope it would make to ordinary women's lives if they push for a woman to become president), and the Democratic Alliance Women's Network? Well, they're never really too outspoken about anything.
Even if they do react now, it would have been too late. If any of these parties want to claim to be leaders of society, and if they're serious about gender equality, they should have picked up the atrocities and their leaders should have created conditions that make it difficult for these crimes to occur.
For instance, amidst the reporting about the rape, a woman called Carol called into Eusebius McKaiser's show on 702 (he put this story on Facebook) saying she was raped and strangled multiple times, but there was complete apathy from police. She was gang-raped again years later. These reports have triggered her memory so much she's been afraid to leave home.
The ANC is in power in the country and the province, so how about getting the police services and justice system in better shape to take these crimes against women (or any crime, for that matter) seriously? Or how about some moral leadership, such as not supporting male leaders who think a woman wearing a kanga is "asking for it"?
This weekend, the party will be having a national executive committee meeting where leaders of the Women's League will be in serious discussions with Cabinet colleagues who can do something about these matters. Is there even a chance that this will be on the agenda?
As for the DA, it now has a mayor in Johannesburg and can direct the metro and traffic police to do more to keep women safe on public transport. Or how about a sustained campaign along public transport routes saying sexism and harassment are not okay?
The other day when it was reported that a bunch of traffic lights were still not working, mayor Herman Mashaba immediately called a press conference to address the issue.
Let's hope that we see some action from these leaders before another woman gets raped or sexually harassed in any way by people who are supposed to deliver a service. Terrorising women like this is not normal.Suggest a correction