Our government stays failing women -- they only step up when they feel that it will give them street cred or when it serves their own agenda. On Monday, Karabo Mokoena's family were visited by the ANC Women's League (ANCWL) and their leader, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, to express their condolences at the family's loss and to speak out against the spate of violence against women in the country.
In the spirit of ubuntu, it is a norm for people to come through and pay their respects to a bereaved family and to bring something as a way to show that they empathise with the family's loss. One could say that the ANCWL wanted to extend the same sentiment with their visit to the Mokoena home. However, the manner in which they went about this is the problem.
Women are abused in SA, and the women's league has been mum on the harrowing experiences. We have a whole minister of women in the presidency who is supposedly there to deal with gender issues affecting women, and yet some women do not know that there is such a portfolio nor how to can access it. Susan Shabangu and her department have essentially excluded women from a conversation about their lives.
Where has the minister of women been all this time while violence was being inflicted on the bodies of women? Where have oBathabile Dlamini been when women were being (and continue to be) stripped of their dignity and paraded as containers wherein the wrath of masculinity has deposited itself? To add insult to injury, the ANCWL then goes to the Mokoena home with iHandy Andy, eggs neRama -- what exactly is this meant to achieve?
It is not funny, and these mascots of patriarchy and chauvinism need to be called out on their casual publicity stunts during triggering times such as this. Dlamini said on Monday: "Women understand the issues of violence against women, and at all times, we talk to women. Men are not there. They must stand up, I thought I would find a lot of men here, they are not here, they are nowhere to be found. We can't keep on talking about one in the same thing, we can't keep on being pushed to listen to people who do not have respect for women."
How many children and women have been raped and murdered in recent months, and where were Shabangu and Dlamini's ANCWL? These are not simply crimes, they are symptoms of a violent war on the bodies of women. Where was the ANCWL when the families of these individuals were mourning the loss of their children to gender based violence? Lindokuhle Kota -- 2; Courtney Pieters -- 3; Iyapha Yamile -- 4; Natalie Baartman -- 5; Stacha Arendse -- 11; Rene Tracy Roman -- 13; Franziska Blöchliger -- 16; Sinoxolo Mafevuka -- 19; Candice Alberts -- 32, and the number continues to go up on the hour. Just this week, four more women have been found dead in Soweto, and it is clear that the spike in crimes against women will continue to increase. Parading groceries is not going to fix the issues South Africans and black children and women in particular have to face. Less lip service and more action is needed.
The fact remains, us women are on our own. There is no political party that cares about the killing of black women. There is no organisation that is coming forward to assist black women; we are on our own. This is a reality we must accept, we see this when standing up for ourselves -- voices high-pitched and quivering with fear, or when coming forward to say we have been assaulted. One thing remains the same -- the resolve to stand, even when no one else stands with us or for us, to say we will not allow this silencing of our experiences.