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Domestic Abuse in South Africa

In S.Africa women are well represented in the government. Women make up 30% of parliament, which makes S.Africa one of the top countries for gender equality in government (www.makeeverywomancount.org)

Yet, when the Domestic violence Act was amended in 1999 so as to increase the amount of help available from police and courts, the S.African Government was sceptical as to whether it could fulfil the obligations under the Act…. and the welfare minister said he does not know where the money will come from for shelters for abused women and children.

The Research Council of S Africa has suggested that a woman is killed every six hours by an intimate partner. The Department of Justice estimates that 1 out of every four S.African women are survivors of domestic violence.

Many cases go unreported. And when reported, the police do not keep separate statistics on assault cases perpetrated by husbands or boyfriends.

And on top of that, many of the barriers to change come from us as women ourselves. Whereas many women are still unaware of their rights, even informed women are afraid of further violence if they attempt legal action.

And then there is culture.

'You made your bed, you must sleep on it" my mother said when I cried.

'What kind of woman are you, you don't run to the police with family problems,' said friends and family.

And in my head, I believed that children should be with their father – no matter how abusive he might be; a professional woman does not 'lower herself' by running to the police. She covers her scars with makeup. I could not face being without a second income by leaving my husband, so I kept quiet.

I now work with the Saartjie Baartman Centre for abused women and children in Cape Town, S.Africa (www.saartjiebaartmancentre.org.za ). It provides refuge, education, counselling, skills training, and legal support for abused women and children.

We do speak out but mainstream media are not really interested in reporting our stories. For example, The South Africa Clothesline Project, Silent No More, We’re Hanging Out Our Dirty Laundry: where t-shirts with our stories on them are hung in public spaces: www.isiswomen.org/pub/wia/wia302/silent.htm

A big challenge we have is that we do not have enough statistical data to use as a weapon for change. We also need to connect with other similar organisations in S.Africa, so our voice will be louder.

I look at the success of Facebook in connecting people to protest in the middle east this year, getting millions of voices heard – and I believe that the cloak of silence covering domestic abuse shall forever be lifted by us through PulseWire and other organisations working together. We shall use programmes like the Ushahidi platform (www.ushahidi.com) and http://www.frontlinesms.com, to reach women who are afraid to speak.

Through mobile phone reporting and collection of incidents of domestic abuse as and when they happen, our voice shall be amplified and echoed across Africa and across the world. And this, in my lifetime.

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Comments

Stella Paul's picture

Amen!

With so much sincerity, such depth of faith and hard work, you can never go wrong. Yes, changes will come, and you will be hailed for that. We will cheer you now and then celebrate with you later.

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Monica Clarke's picture

Roti, Kapda and Makan

Dearest Stella

Congratulations on winning the contest to cover the forthcoming UN Climate Summit in Durban. In S.Africa fighting for bread, butter and health issues (‘roti’, ‘kapda’ and ‘makan’) are still so immediate and everyday that climate change takes a back seat. Your reporting will bring great changes to our thinking in S Africa, thank you.

Please let us know how things go. ..... and, if you have the time, would you mind pointing me in the right direction as to where I could get regular online grassroots news about S Africa? - the sites I visit are all mainstream and not much comes through unless it is a disastrous happening. I would like to get more news about the regular slog of life. Not being a journalist, I don't know where to look!

All the very best with your work. - By the way, is your fantastic article Local Challenges, Global Solutions your Week 3 Assignment? If it is then perhaps you need to check the Tag - it seems not to be there.

Love from Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Stella Paul's picture

Thanks!

Dear Monica

Yeah, the post Local Challenges, Global Solution is indeed my 3rd week assignment write up. Thanks for your concern. Its really sweet! Being one of the earlier post, its now gone a page back. For example, all week 3 posts are available under this url http://www.worldpulse.com/taxonomy/term/13301. Once you are there, scroll down the page and click on 'next'. You can see my post at the bottom of the list.

About getting more news on South Africa, the best help is to access it through an aggregator. I normally do that, specially when it comes to getting news from non-Indian or non-US regions. For Africa, I use this one http://www.africannewslive.com/

For South Africa, I normally go through this list
http://www.onlinenewspapers.com/sa.htm

Hope these help a little.

Love!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Monica Clarke's picture

Thanks, very helpful!

Love from Monica

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

usha kc's picture

Dear Monica,, thank you for

Dear Monica,, thank you for letting us to know about your challenges .
may the god give you all strength to break the challenges.

Monica Clarke's picture

Education, Education, Education

Hi Usha

I just looked at your Week 3 assignment article again, and thought that you hit the nail right on the head when you speak about patriarchal allegence. Can you believe that polygamy including child marriages is still practised by our chiefs in villages in S Africa and that the women are supporting this system of abuse in 2011? Education, education, education, as you say. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to break through these cycles of ignorance.

Love you!

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

MaDube's picture

Dear Monica

As you know the question of violence against women in South Africa is something that is close to my heart as well. I have a friend who has moved out of apartments 3 times because each time someone at her complex has been killed in cases of domestic violence, husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend and in some cases ex boyfriend/ex-husband. Keep the fight going.

Monica Clarke's picture

Thanks for responding

Reminds me of the same happening with nextdoor neighbour kiling his wife when I was newly married...WHEN WILL IT STOP? Thanks for writing to me Rumbi.

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

faridaY's picture

Keep going

Monica,
It's wonderful to hear of organisations like the Saartjie Baartman Centre in South Africa. We need many more such organisations throughout the continent. I love the idea of "hanging out dirty laundry", I think slowly by slowly with that kind of commitmment things do chnage. Keep up the great work.

Monica Clarke's picture

Clotheslines

Thanks Farida. If you come across similar projects - or know of where we can air our Clothesline internationally - do send them my way!

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Monica Clarke's picture

Thank you Farida.

God bless you with your work as well. I have been reading the horrific stories of suffering coming through this week's assignment, and wonder where it will all end? Keep up what you are doing too.

With love from Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Carlotta's picture

My son's day care teacher had

My son's day care teacher had not been coming to work for sometime and we just heard that she was sick. I was only told a few days ago that she was beaten by her boyfriend and her jaw dislocated. Her teeth also moved and now she has braces keeping them together and she cannot eat because of the pain. She chose not to report the matter to the police, yet this was not even the first time that he hurt her. I met her and the boyfriend recently walking on the street and holding hands like a happy couple and my heart just bleeds for her. South Africa touts itself as a very warm country to visitors yet we have these very brutal men in our midst. Thank you for your article, Monica.

Carlotta's picture

My son's day care teacher had

My son's day care teacher had not been coming to work for sometime and we just heard that she was sick. I was only told a few days ago that she was beaten by her boyfriend and her jaw dislocated. Her teeth also moved and now she has braces keeping them together and she cannot eat because of the pain. She chose not to report the matter to the police, yet this was not even the first time that he hurt her. I met her and the boyfriend recently walking on the street and holding hands like a happy couple and my heart just bleeds for her. South Africa touts itself as a very warm country to visitors yet we have these very brutal men in our midst. Thank you for your article, Monica.

Monica Clarke's picture

Can we make contact please

Hi C. I'm sending you a private message - would like to make direct contact with you to talk about an idea I've got if you have the time to start the project with me please?

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Ariee's picture

Thanks

Dear Monica,

Domestic violence was what I talked about in my first post and it's the same in Nepal. They don't want to go to the police or seek help coz they're scared of what the society will think about them .

Astha Joshi

Monica Clarke's picture

Thanks Ariee

Thanks Ariee for reading my article and for taking the time to respond to it. May the sun be always on your radiant face.

With lots of loving from Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

fem4femmes's picture

Your words, my thoughts...

Dear Monica!

Once again I read your words and the way in which they are greeted within me is a greeting reserved for close and personal friends. Your ability to articulate my many fears and hopes, and the fears and hopes that I have heard in the voices of so many women is astounding. They lift the burden of being a single, misunderstood whisper in the great, indifference of the world.

Thank you, with love and gratitude today!

marissa

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

Monica Clarke's picture

Keep flying

...my lovely butterfly.

I feel the soft breeze from your wings on my cheeks on the other side of the world.

With love for today from Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

jap21's picture

Hi Monica

Your work, your ideals, your strength, are awesome. I am honored to meet you!

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

Monica Clarke's picture

How right you are Jacqui,

How right you are Jacqui, that helping people to do things is one thing, helping us to dream, quite another. A difficult task, for we are not really allowed to dream are we? At school: you are dreaming again. At home as an adolescent, you are not paying attention! In own home as an adult women, a smack across the head.....Now we need to learn how to dream. The world needs more dream makers and creators like you!

Bless you for the work you are doing, and thank you for writing to me.

With lots of love from Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Sandra Nassali's picture

Hello Monica, reading your

Hello Monica, reading your story almost got me crying but then strength came in when i read on...good to know that there are strong women in S.A doing something to bring about "change".

Its so sad and almost unbelievable that every 6 hours a woman is killed..please lets make use of everything we can(advocay, networking, information sharing, service delivery, new social media e.t.c.) to protect fellow women who have no voice...

Wishing you all the best in your fight against gender based violence. My prayers are with you :-)

Hugs

Sandra

Sandra

Monica Clarke's picture

Dearest, pretty

Dearest, pretty Sanshine,

Thank you for writing to me and for encouraging me. We need young people like you on board! We need you to take up our voice and splash it across the headlines of the world, we need you as our vehicle, because our throats are dry, our tears have dried up, and years of gender inequity within our families, our culture, and the low expections of the economic world have convinced us that we have to keep our voice down, so as not to rock the boat.

Please keep your voice loud for us while we are tired and feel worn out, will you?

I really need you as a friend, and am sending you an invitation. I hope that you will accept.

With lots of loving and with a vision of a brighter future with Sanshine on our side

From Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Azaria's picture

Gifted Writer

Monica,

Thank you for your post, you are a gifted writer, your words commands attention.

I was moved by some of he stories you shared. I grew up in the Caribbean in a time where it was quite normal for a husband to beat his wife. I witness first hand domestic abuse at home, my mother choosing to stay with my father to grant us her children a better life. As women we can rationalize any situation to keep us from seeing the truth, any form of domestic violence should never be tolerated. If you are hit once, it will happen again!

It's was great to read that from your experience you are now working with other women, to provide a safe place for them, giving them the tools they need to turn there lives around from domestic abuse.

Keep on doing your good work, the women of South Africa needs you.

Change is coming...it has to!

Azaria Ulmer, CHC, CPCC
Wellness & Empowerment Coach

Real Foods Heal
Everything is food...what are you hungry for?
Azaria@Realfoodsheal.com
646-721-1330

Sacred Woman
Empowering women and girls around the world
Azariau@me.com
646-721-1330

Monica Clarke's picture

Hi from Monica in France

Thanks for reading my post, Azaria, and for your kind comments. I looked at your profile, and would like to know more about you. You have a smile that radiates across the Atlantic...I'm sure that the rest of you does too!

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Insha Allah's picture

solutions for domestic violence

Dear Monica,

Thank you so much for sharing with us the stories from your mother land which you are passionate about. And I'm also inspired by what you are doing in the community and your aspiration and dedication to the solutions for domestic violence. That's one of the crucial issue our women are facing on daily basis and we really need concern, care from the community, men, boy, our women and girls. I really love the way you point out very potential resource like social networking on Facebook in creating a positive change among society.

With Love from Myanmar (Burma)
Insha Allah

Shwe Wutt Hmon

Monica Clarke's picture

Thank you, Insha Allah I'm

Thank you, Insha Allah

I'm trying to get MEN to stand up against domestic abuse! I shall keep up to date on how things develop.

All my love and strength today and for this week, from Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Dear Monica,

I am strongly inspired by your knowledge and huge vision. Although South Farica is facing many difficulties and overwhelmed GVB cases, I believe one day, in your land, women and girls and protected by forced and practical law. The country will be enlightened exactly because they have dedicated and potential activists as well compassionate citizens like you. I also love the way you present mixing the plight of the people and your vision for the change (as a lawyer and gender activist).

With Love
Insha Allah
Burma (Myanmar)

Shwe Wutt Hmon

Monica Clarke's picture

Thank you

Thank you, Insha Allah. We will keep working together. Love and hugs from Monica

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

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