Columns 12.7.2018 09:00 am

Women feed the monster that is gender-based violence

Marchers on their way to the Union Buildings to protest against gender-based violence on 20 May 2017. Picture: Michel Bega

Marchers on their way to the Union Buildings to protest against gender-based violence on 20 May 2017. Picture: Michel Bega

As women – particularly black women – we are told to kneel down and pray that the heavens will change the behaviour of men in our lives.

Women feed the monster that is gender-based violence.

I closely follow the issue of the upcoming #totalshutdown, when women of this country will come together and declare that their bodies will not be crime scenes to the men that claim to love them.

As I hear of more and more stories, I realise that while we focus on gender-based violence and seek to villainise the males, women are also culprits of this type of violence.

The struggle of married black women in South Africa is one that should bring us to tears.

There are many homes left without a father figure and times when “till death do us part” is taken quite literally.

When we marry, we are told to prepare for the stormy days; we are told to wait out the storms and hope for the days when we will no longer go to sleep on pillows soaked in tears.

As women – particularly as black women – we are told to kneel down and pray that the heavens will change the behaviour of men in our lives.

We are reminded that marriages are a daunting exercise and not always easy.

We are told to keep taking the abuse in its many forms, the unending infidelities, the lies and the reckless behaviour.

We are taught to make ourselves punching bags, to feed into this dangerous, never-ending cycle.

While wives barely stay afloat in dangerous waters, in marriages filled with heartbreak and tears, men sit idly by in what they regard as a normal relationship.

As women, we should be protectors and encourage the right and expected thing.

But women today are as guilty as men – be it by commission or by omission – of perpetuating a cycle of abuse.

Is it because their form of abuse is not the kind punctuated by fists and swollen lips, black eyes and shattered ribs?

Theirs is an oppressive kind of abuse, that creates an anger within young brides.

Gender-based violence is not always about a punch or a kick. Sometimes it is even the overreaching sister-in-law who makes a wife feel threatened in her very own home.

Kekeletso Nakeli-Dhliwayo

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