We must end femicide without relying on government

While Covid-19 continues to take lives around our country – and the world – there is another virus that seems hell-bent on wiping out our women.

That virus is man.

A woman is killed in Philippi. In Gqeberha.

A woman is killed, her body chopped up and put in a suitcase by her lover. A woman is raped and killed by someone she had been out drinking with.

The common denominator is that the perpetrator is a man – and who can tell why exactly, men feel entitled to rape and kill women – often their lovers or wives.

Why do men feel it’s okay for them to act violently when a woman has the audacity to stand up and fight for her rights or challenge a man?

The latest quarterly crime stats – for the period between April 1 and June 30 – which were released last Friday, make for grim reading, with contact crimes up 60% nationally, and sexual offences up by 74%.

Today anxiety and stress have become part of our daily life. In addition to worrying about protecting ourselves from Covid, we have to worry about young girls who are increasingly being targeted. We worry about killers who are roaming freely in our society.

I also worry that we are becoming desensitised to crimes like gender-based violence. We talk about these killings as if nothing bad has happened. It is an easy conversation to have when a woman is found killed in a forest or dumped in a hole, or a heap of rubbish.

The recent killing of Nosicelo Mtebeni, a law student at Fort Hare University, allegedly by her boyfriend, should not be accepted. We must be horrified – because she died a horrible death before being chopped up and packed in a suitcase.

And this happened while we were all talking about Women’s Month.

Perhaps as communities we need to be real when it comes to our women. Perhaps as a country we need to look at our nicely-written policies and rewrite them. And then we need to look at how else we are letting our women down. Are police and our justice system protecting our women?

And should we perhaps be retraining police so that courts do not throw our cases because dockets or investigations have been compromised by technicalities or paperwork that’s not been properly completed.

After all these years of lamenting the number of women being killed by men, perhaps the number we need to be examining and talking about is the number of police on the streets.

Perhaps when we march and say enough is enough, we should mean that. We should disempower the enemy who by now knows that when we say enough is enough, most times we are just blowing hot air.

We ought to be honest and say the much talked about the National Strategic Plan to end gender-based violence and femicide will never work – at least not now.

Since its launch, has it had an impact? No, because our leaders have blamed Covid19 for it not working. The sooner we end femicide without relying on the government, the better.