The recent shocking murder of 22 year old South African woman, Karabo Mokoena at the hands of her accused 27 year old ex-boyfriend, has once again pointed to the Elephant in the room…Violence and abuse of women at the hands of their intimate male partners.
Beaten, tortured, burnt beyond recognition and tossed into the woods, the gruesome nature of the murder points to the contempt for the value of not only the lives of women in general, but the African woman in particular, that continues to pervade society today.
In her second contribution, my wife Tendai attempts to trace the roots of this Misogyny in the dominant process of our Socialisation…..Enjoy!
GENDER BASED VIOLENCE & SOCIALISATION
‘Gender’ isn’t something we’re born with, and not something we have, but something we do (West and Zimmerman 1987) – something we perform (Butler 1990). Conversely, ‘Sex’ is a biological categorization based primarily on reproductive potential, whereas gender is the social elaboration of biological sex.
In the famous words of Simone de Beauvoir, “Women are not born, they are made.” The same is true of men. The making of a man or a woman is a never-ending process that begins before birth – from the moment someone begins to wonder if the pending child will be a boy or a girl. And the ritual announcement at birth that it is in fact one or the other instantly transforms an “it” into a “he” or a “she” (Butler 1993).
A brutal misogyny permeates every culture and society in the world. The recent high profile case of the brutal murder of a young 22-year-old lady Karabo Mokoena at the hands of her accused 27-year-old ex-boyfriend Sandile Mantsoe has captured our attention.
In the past few years, we’ve seen other high profile cases on violence against women; the death of Reeva Steenkamp at the hands of her boyfriend, the once famous athlete Oscar Pistorius. This is only a glimpse into the lives of millions of women and children who are brutally murdered, raped & abused by loved ones every day in Africa and the rest of the world.
One in four women are abused by an intimate partner. In Australia according to statistics domestic violence is the leading cause of death in women under 45 years. In South Africa, the femicide rate is five times higher than the global average, and Africa is considered as having the highest incidents of gender-based violence in the world.
According to Unicef sexual violence against children in Zimbabwe is wide-spread. 1 in 10 girls between 15-17years has been a victim of forced sexual intercourse or sexual act, two-thirds are first abused by an intimate partner and a tenth by a stranger.
Why is violence towards women and children so endemic??
Let me say no matter how much you’ve been wronged, there can never be a reason to physically, emotionally, mentally abuse another human and taking their life. Violence by partners against partners is such a profound violation of basic human decency, why then is it on the increase at alarming rates and becoming more and more brazen?
Sadly, l’ve come to believe that there is a group of people that is born inherently evil irrespective of their upbringing (i.e. Psychopaths), but l’ve not yet lost hope in humanity. Human beings are very complex creatures, and we’re socialised into what is considered ‘acceptable and normal’ from the moment we’re born and identified as either boy/male or girl/ female, so our behaviour always has to match the biological sex you’re identified with.
From a young age, both boys and girls are nurtured differently and as social beings we have a tendency to internalise the feedback we receive from our parents or primary care givers as well as the environment surrounding us. Men are compelled to know, to be right, to be in control, especially of their emotions hence stifling the humanity of boys/men.
Women on the other hand, are generally at home with their intuitive feelings, with life’s ambiguities and uncertainties and perhaps a lot of men feel threatened by women who symbolise a world in which men have little control, so that in a crisis they cannot rely upon their powers or reasoning and logic to provide answers so the enemy then becomes within…? ‘If you won’t submit to my rule l’ll burn, behead, rape, enslave, garrotte or disfigure you or l will hurl your children and mine into the abyss so that you never see them again. Now let’s see who has the power!’
We can’t continue to ignore this or deal with it superficially, by pointing the finger and passing the buck. We all have to take responsibility for our actions, and make our contribution in uprooting this social ill. Let’s all work together in building an Africa that does not continue to encourage dysfunction and loss in our communities, it is extremely self-defeating and a loss to the Continent.
Please share your thoughts and suggestions, and below are some insightful documentaries/short films on the issue that I think are helpful in articulating the issues….To a better tomorrow!
*Original article found on Vhedza’s Culture Lounge