Women’s day in a world scourged by Femicide.

August 09, South Africa’s national women’s day commemorates the day when women participated in a national march to petition against pass laws in 1956. Legislation laws by then required African persons to carry a document on them to prove that were allowed to enter a white area. Such oppressive laws were considered barbaric, and therefore had to be advocated against. However, decades after winning victory against pass laws, women in South Africa are now experiencing a new wave of struggle.

For the past few months South Africa and the rest of the world has been brought to a halt by the deadly pandemic, and this has greatly highlighted the struggle experienced by women. Although Covid-19 has resulted in the loss of loved ones, jobs, depression etc one of its most threatening challenge has been the increase of gender based violence since the lockdown started. The World Health Organization and various research claim that Covid-19 has virtually been intertwined with the increase of gender based violence cases.

According to the United Nations gender based violence is any physical, sexual, verbal, psychological and mental harm or suffering towards any human being including threats of such acts, coercion and arbitrary deprivation of liberty occurring in either public or private life. It occurs between families, household members, wives and husbands, boyfriends and girlfriends or parents and children. The abusers can be men or women but the people often abused are children and women. 

Contributing factors of gender based violence include women’s incapability to be economically independent, early arranged marriages, infidelity in marriages, lack of capital, assets and resources vital for personal development. However, despite women’s inadequacy this violence has its roots in the gendered inequities that favour men over women. Such complexity of power relations usually manifest as femicide.

According to Statistics South Africa (SSA) femicide is the intentional murdering of girls and women based on their gender, with intimate femicide being the most common in South Africa. The World Health Organization ranked South Africa number 4 on the list of worst murder rates of women by country, estimating that 12,1 in every 100 000 women are victims of femicide meaning a woman is murdered every 3 hours.

Time and again horrific deaths of women have flooded news rooms, often arousing waves of outrage and resulting in social media outcry hashtags over these gruesome murders. These murders are mostly influenced by the social construction of manhood especially the masculine identity of men. Combined with their obsession of power most men feel entitled to own and subject their partners as properties, hence ordering them around or killing them however and whenever it pleases them.

A few weeks ago I remember how terrified my family was after I left the house unannounced to go to a nearby supermarket, this is how bad femicide is in South Africa. One can simply leave home for work, shopping or errands to never return especially women and children. Returning home alive is such a great blessing that often times goes unappreciated. South Africa like most African countries got its freedom in 1994 but how free are her women when their freedom of movement is limited? Being outdoors especially after 6pm is not safe. For how long will women lock themselves in their homes for safety? How did we get to a point were brothers, uncles, fathers and boyfriends rape, torture, shoot, burn and kill their sisters, nieces, daughters, wives and girlfriends? Are men not supposed to protect women?  

Therefore it is of great significance that gender based violence in all its forms be condemned as it continues to be a threat to personal and national development at large. Sustainable Development Goals and the SADC Gender Protocol have taken huge steps in eliminating gender based violence to halve by 2030. To achieve communities free of gender based violence women need to be educated of their deserving human rights whilst men are to be taught not to infringe or abuse these rights.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her book titled “A Feminist Manifesto” states that to deal away with cultural norms that oppress women like gender based violence everyone should become a feminist. In its political ideology feminism is the belief in social, political and economic equality of sexes. In simple terminology it is the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. As communities we have to desist from the notion that being a powerful or career woman is aberration.  It is important for women to be economically independent as this will give them power to decision making and walking away from abusive relationships.

According to Gender Links 2017 baseline research 11 out of 15 SADC countries including Zimbabwe and South Africa have put in place domestic violence legislations. All the other countries offer form of services to survivors of gender based violence including Post Exposure Prophylaxis treatment.

Citizens and organizations that advocate for the end of gender based violence often times ask if the government is doing enough to ensure that women are safe. It is therefore of paramount importance that government leaders ensure that justice prevail in order to curb the scourge of violence. Court rulings must ensure that perpetrators are brought to book through competent jurisdiction. In addition media coverage should also expand when reporting gender based violence and communities at grassroots level must come together and put an end to gender based violence.

Women should speak out and shun ideologies and norms that encourage them to suffer in silence. Attitudes fueling gender based violence should be regarded as taboo. Society should stop supporting highly esteemed personals such as celebrities, artists and socialites as it supposedly deems them perfect to perpetuate evil deeds and doubt their victims. This will not only result in justice prevailing but will encourage men to take full responsibility of their actions. It is every citizen’s right to advocate against gender based violence.

On this women’s day I am rising as an African woman and demanding safe streets and cities on behalf of all the women in South Africa and around the world. I claim freedom over their bodies, their bodies; their choices. NO means NO. Our bodies are not men’s crime scenes. African women are very resilient and contribute a lot towards the growth of national economies hence we need them alive at all costs. Together we can put a stop to Gender Based Violence. Happy women’s day.

Melody Kandare is a human rights activist, interested in human and social development as well as international relations. She writes in her personal capacity. This article is part of her word press blog @Multifaceted Diamond.

Is Africa Rising enough for her people?

While on a work assignment three years ago I had an opportunity to meet and interview one of South Africa’s renowned human rights activist Kumi Naidoo. This was during the launch of the Africans Rising Movement founded on the Kilimanjaro Declaration. Africans Rising is a Pan-African ideology based on the belief that unity is vital for economic, social and political progress of the continent. The movement is committed to enhance the rights of people through the promotion of justice, peace and dignity. Hence, the significance of this initiative was to design the mapping of resources across Africa, from smaller to larger networks while building alliances that support liberation movements in the long run, considering how rich in minerals and cultural diversity Africa is.

First introduced in a 2011 article by the Economist magazine, this narrative captivated the continent as it envisioned a better Africa for people who felt disappointed by the African Renaissance Institute long founded in 1999, a concept with similar notions to the latter, advocating for economic, political, scientific and cultural renewal of the continent.

Although Africa has come a long way from the days of colonial rule, with many of her countries having gained political independence, most of her beneficiaries are still struggling in their own motherland. Despite all the hype around the Africans Rising Movement, years after decolonisation and decentralisation of power, the majority of Africans are still struggling. I cannot help but ask myself “For whom is Africa Rising for? Are Africans enjoying the fruits of the freedom their forefathers fought for? Are African governments fulfilling their promises? The answer is usually NO in most scenarios.

Instead of rising for her people both for personal and continental development, Africa is comprised of leaders who make irrational decisions, which in the process bankrupt and oppress her people. Leaders who perpetuate political & socio-economic instability, lack of all sorts of freedom, dehumanising poverty, gender pay gaps, civil unrests, high unemployment rates, increasing rates of curable diseases and corruption, highlighting that there is need for equitable redistribution of Africa’s resources and its wealth from a few privileged to all her people.

Many governments in Africa, particularly Southern Africa have dismally failed their citizens. Most of the countries which were referred to as “bread basket countries” short lived their inherited strong economies and have since been experiencing ongoing economic deterioration, bad governance, financial crisis, inflation, poor health services, poor education systems, poor social services, poor representation of women and youths in politics, patriarchal leadership and falling Gross Domestic Product.

It is against this gloomy backdrop that civil societies have initiated the Africans Rising movement to take back power and wealth from the few political and economic elites. It is not too late to save our continent, young minds must be put on the map to deal away with old leaders and state capture done by people who will not live long enough to suffer its consequences. It is imperative that Africans rise and fight for economic, political, social and cultural development that can be enjoyed by all and is sustainable for the future.

Educating oneself about African politics, international relations and constitutions as well as attending constitution amendments gatherings as this will greatly enlighten people about the rule of law and allow their voices to be heard. Initialisation of Grassroots communities should be of paramount importance to address Africa’s social-ills, stop the bleeding of its wealth and resources to the west and stop Africa’s brain drain. Capable ordinary citizens with access to resources should invest in training young people’s leadership skills. 

 Influential organisations such as the African Union, must prioritise peacekeeping to avoid civil unrests when new movements emerge advocating for human rights. The International Criminal Court must fully investigate and charge any leaders with crimes against humanity. Institutes such as the African Renaissance should continue to promote Africa’s development at all costs and Africans must continue rising against all odds, together we can build the Africa we want.

Remember It Always Seems Impossible Until It Is Done ~ Nelson Mandela

Melody Kandare is a human rights activist, interested in human and social development as well as international relations. She writes in her personal capacity. This article is part of her word press blog @Multifaceted Diamond.

Sexual harassment a social-ill at its peak in the 21st century

Though the corona-virus pandemic has caused untold havoc around the globe, it has enlightened me on some important life aspects we tend to ignore although they affect us badly. One positive thing the covid-19-imposed lockdown has taught me is to adopt a reading habit. I am one kind of a person who has always disliked reading unless it is for examination purposes.

However, of recent I have found myself reading not only for leisure but to widen my knowledge and perspective about life in general. “The precious little black book”, one of my current favorites has given me an insight on how sexual harassment has been gravely affecting our societies although we tend to snub its existence. Although the book is less of a novel & more of a resource guide, it has provided me with essential information that is significant to our society.

Sexual harassment is a social-ill that we can consider to be at its highest level in the 21st century. According to the United Nations statistics, an estimated 70% of women worldwide have experienced sexual harassment at some point in their lives. Now, sexual harassment occurs when someone pays you unwanted attention that is sexual in nature, which often makes one feel uncomfortable.

 It usually involves unwanted physical contact, sexual assault, rape, requests for sex in exchange for good marks, pay increase or a job offer etc. Many people both females & males have at some point encountered sexual harassment either at workplaces, educational institutions or in their respective communities.

Sexual harassment in most cases is a manifestation of power relations between women & men with women most likely being victims, precisely because they often lack power, are in more vulnerable and insecure positions, lack self-confidence, or have been socialized to suffer in silence.

As I sat thinking of what I would write about this topic, memories took me back to when I was doing my tertiary education with a certain University, I recalled how we would often sit in small groups as female students & discuss how certain male lecturers made comments with sexual overtones towards female students. Although we usually discussed sexual harassment as something that only happened to certain types of people we later realized how stereotypical we were as it happened to anyone despite of one’s age, moral compass or gender etc.

Personally, I was a victim of sexual harassment when I was a student. I was privileged to be appointed as a class representative (a port of channel between students and lecturers) concerning anything academically related. However, some of the lecturers started making unwelcome comments about my body and one even had the guts to ask me if I had a boyfriend? Strange isn’t it, the worst was when one of them suggested I could be his mistress (side chick) as most youths would put it nowadays.

Such utter disgust & disrespect from people who, if anything, were supposed to protect me was shocking. I literally resigned from the post & most of the times avoided any contact with such lecturers and believe me I dreaded having to attend their lectures. My biggest fear was that they were going to fail me deliberately, lucky enough it never happened, neither was I harmed physically.

As mentioned above sexual harassment is not only limited to academic institutions, I have often been approached by both peer & senior strangers who have in one way or another instigated sexual harassment. Today our communities and workplaces have become places of terror more than they should be places of safety, but fear not, acts and policies against sexual harassment have been put in place to deal accordingly with sex offenders. Click on the link to read more of my experiences.

I believe some of you have encountered sexual harassment & might have not taken action either due to lack of knowledge or deliberately as you felt it may complicate your lives or simply out of fear. Whatever the case maybe, I would like to encourage you to put a stop to such ill-behaviors by speaking out and reporting such issues. NB: Please share some of your experiences in the comment section

MK TIPS: If you’re being sexually harassed:

  • Immediately let the person know that his/her behavior is making you uncomfortable;
  • If it’s a random attack immediately report it to the nearest police station;
  • If it has happened for a long period of time, record the incidents, dates, time, names and keep it safe for later as evidence;
  • If it’s at work, alert the human resources department or whichever department which oversees such;
  • If it’s at academic institutions confide in a trusted SRC member, lecturer;
  • Seek counselling & if raped immediately contact the health care facilities at your institution or report to the nearest police station.

Melody Kandare is a human rights activist, interested in human and social development as well as international relations. She writes in her personal capacity. This article is part of her word press blog @Multifaceted Diamond.

Unraveling a side of me unknown by many

It’s been months since this blog has been in existence, yet nothing has been posted despite the default welcoming message by word press😜.

Well without wasting much of your time welcome to my blog, a rambling of my truth, fears, challenges, achievements, perceptions etc. Through this blog, I aim to promote safety, dignity, respect and encourage people to stand up together against bigotry and advocate for human rights.

Like the name entails “multifaceted” like a diamond with many sides I will talk about anything if not everything from domestic affairs, religion, culture, academics, socio-economic, socio-political, love and many more issues.

My content will be about personal life experiences, yet some will be motivated by things, people and the environment surrounding me. I am passionate about gender equality, social justice, gender equity, economic justice, women in politics and gender based violence among many other things hence my writings will be influenced by the above mentioned notions.

So stay tuned for more and please do not forget to like, comment, share and follow my page & oh before I forget let me thank you in advance for your support, love & kindness 👏🏾💞.

Xoxo MK