The brave must teach: not to beat a woman

fear_abuse“We are a damaged nation in more ways than one,” I said to one of my first year students, my voice tinged with sadness. And the reality numbed me.
As part of newswriting, we were discussing the video of a schoolboy brutally assaulting a female learner at a school in Inanda, north of Durban. He hits her, jumps in the air and kicks her on her head and back. She falls to the ground. She bleeds. Somehow, she musters the strength to wake up, she falters, but steadies herself. It’s horrific to say the least.
But what shook me more was what followed in class. I asked students to write down questions they would ask both the boy and girl if they were journalists covering this story. At least three groups posed this question: “Were you in a relationship or dating each other?”
“Is this what you believe happens in relationships?” I asked in return. They nodded, adding that they have seen it happen to their friends and community members. How damaging to the psyche of these young South Africans – our so-called born frees!
This shakes the very foundation of our democracy. It is the biggest evil we are dealing with post-apartheid. Not state capture, nor the second recession or joblessness comes close to the danger that lurks from continued violence against women. Are we as a nation going to be nonchalant about raising men to abuse and murder women?
It’s an anger that has been growing within me for some time now. In fact, I have been filled with rage since the murder of Karabo Mokoena allegedly at the hands of her boyfriend Sandile Mantsoe. Then came the horrendous circumstances surrounding Thembisile Yende’s murder. Closer to home, in my residential area of Phoenix, mother of two, Nadia Mia was stabbed several times by her husband who even attempted to throw her into a bin. She died.
Deputy Minister of Higher Education Mduduzi Manana’s assault on a woman set in motion a huge public debate about his conduct as an honourable MP. There is nothing honourable in hitting a woman. It’s a position he must be stripped of. But we still have many, including women, who defend him.
Cry beloved South Africa cry! The men who fought so bravely against apartheid did not fight for a democracy like this. They stood by their women, all women of this nation. Many of them are still standing strong with us today and their voices need to be amplified. We need a massive movement geared towards this.
Clearly, government cannot be entrusted with this as they shield one of their own.
We, the citizens, must take charge. In our communities, within the workplace and at schools, let’s start this conversation about grooming boys and men to keep their anger in check. They need to understand that no matter what the situation, their anger should never supersede their love and respect for women. I am tired of the rhetoric after a murder… I don’t know how this happened…. I loved her….
This has to stop. Given, the historic imbalances, mothers and fathers tend to pay more attention to the girl child to ensure she is not prejudiced in any way. But what about the boy child? Does he know how to treat a woman? Are enough mothers and fathers having this conversation with their sons?
Reports suggest that the incident in the school assault video happened last year. Tomorrow the suspect is expected in court. Months have passed. And seemingly the suspect’s father kept quiet. This silence will sink our nation. Fathers, speak up!
We cannot wait for another video to expose the dangerous gender dynamics that prevail today. The change must begin at home with age appropriate messages for young men. Let us be brave today so there will be no more beatings tomorrow.

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