An uncomfortable Christmas

Throughout 2018, I have written about how tired I am of tokenism. It’s ridiculous the way we box certain issues into days, weeks or months and pay lip service to them instead of creating mechanisms to push for change. It happens year in and year out. We sometimes fool ourselves with numbers; you and I both know that numbers can lie. And so the status quo remains.

Let me continue with my tradition of breaking away from tokenism. Allow me to beg your indulgence on this eve of Christmas eve. It’s not that I don’t want to spread some festive cheer. Instead, I am mindful that not many have reason to celebrate. I’m talking about a scourge that has robbed many families and snatched promising women away from us as a nation. I’m talking about pre-mediated murder at the hands of an intimate partner.

There are some names that have been mentioned more often than others in mainstream media but there are some names we may never know. That scares me.

Last week, while browsing through news online, I came across a name I did not know or recall. As I read the details, I was reduced to tears. I had to stop, gather my thoughts and come back to complete reading the story. This is an excerpt…

“He killed the deceased in the most gruesome manner possible, he set her alight and showed no interest in her afterwards.”

Describing domestic violence as a “hidden irreparable character”, which has a ripple effect on family life, she said, “The accused was her intimate partner who killed her in her own home and the sentence must be a deterrent. The court must send out a strong message.”

You can read the full story here…

https://www.iol.co.za/ios/news/killer-gets-life-for-setting-lover-on-fire-trapping-her-in-toilet-18516823

After reading that, I hope you understand my anger and frustration. I hope you understand why I am not feeling very festive. I simply cannot, knowing that as I pen this, many more women are not safe in their own homes.

It’s not a comfortable conversation to have at the Christmas lunch or dinner table. But it really is time we stepped out of our comfort zones to face the reality of the precarious lives of women in abusive relationships. I implore you – let’s talk about it as often as we can. Let’s use whatever legal avenues we have – even if it means going to the police and courts ourselves. Let’s try too to help would-be perpetrators deal with their issues – because all men aren’t trash.

If we do not become a voice for victims of domestic violence, no one will. And come next Christmas, those lunch and dinner tables will sadly have some empty chairs and voids of laughter and happy conversations that will never be filled.

So this Christmas, if anything, I want to remind you about the power that you have to be a champion of change… whether it’s helping a woman at risk among your family, friends or neighbourhood. In our little circles we can make a difference and save lives. I can think of no greater joy during Christmas. I am reminded of the words of one of the founding fathers of America, author, diplomat, inventor, physicist, politician and printer Benjamin Franklin..

How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, his precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments.

Certainly some food for thought this Christmas…

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