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And we think 16 Days is enough?

South Africa, we have failed our womxn and children.

This Saturday, 25 November, marks the start of 16 Days of Activism on No Violence against Women and Children, a campaign South Africa has participated in many times before this.

And what, frankly, has it done for us?

Spoiler alert: absolutely nothing.

Column by Conor Engelbrecht

And we think 16 Days is enough?

According to the South African Medical Research Council, 3 womxn are killed by their partners every day in South Africa. And that's just the ones we know about. Which begs the question: how are 16 days enough?

In 2014, President Jacob Zuma called for a year-long campaign against gender-based violence, because no, 16 days are not enough. And, despite the #365Days campaign, the #CountMeIn campaign, we sit here in 2017 with too much blood on our hands.

Too many womxn have died this year alone. Too many men have been let off, have been forgiven by society, have had their deplorable behaviour excused, and that's on all of us.

"We have failed our womxn and children"

As a nation, we have to do better. We cannot, a week after former Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training Mduduzi Manana walked away from his sentencing with little more than a fine and some community service, turn around and participate in a campaign against gender-based violence and seriously think that it is good enough.

Now, I'm not saying that 16 Days of Activism is a bad idea. It's not. What I'm saying is that we, as South Africans, need to do more.

Our society is built around men. It supports them, rewards them, shields them from harm, protects them from attack, favours them over womxn. This patriarchal system, which shows itself in every "You know he has a temper", every "Boys will be boys", every "He didn't mean it like that", is killing womxn. And we think 16 days is enough?

In April 2017, a young South African womxn named Karabo Mokoena died. Her burnt remains were found in a ditch and her ex-boyfriend Sandile Mantsoe claimed that she had committed suicide. How did her body get burned? He panicked and doused her body in pool acid and petrol, before putting a tyre around her and setting it alight. Riiiight. And we think 16 days is enough?

Kwaito star Brickz, also known as Sipho Ndlovu, was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for raping a 17 year old relative in 2013. He threatened to kill her if she came forward about it. He has since been accused of rape by another womxn. And we think 16 days is enough?

The police has recorded 39 828 rapes in 2016 and 2017, averaging out to 109.1 rapes every. Single. Day. And we think 16 days is enough?

A 2012 study uncovered that 36% of womxn in KwaZulu-Natal, 45% of womxn in the Western Cape, 51% of womxn in Gauteng and 77% of womxn in Limpopo had experienced some form of gender-based violence. And we think 16 days is enough?

Between March 2010 and March 2011, seven womxn were killed every day. At least half of these deaths took place at the hands of their partner.

And we think 16 days is enough?

Our society, frankly, doesn't value womxn. Certainly not on the same level that it values and protects men.

"Our society doesn't value womxn"

So yes, we can have our 16 Days of Activism campaign, nothing wrong with that. But why limit ourselves? That right there is the problem - our entire way of dealing with gender-based violence is flawed, purely reactionary. When the next Karabo comes along, the next Noluthando Mahlaba, we will rise up, fire in our blood and bile in our throats. And then, when it all blows over, it's forgotten - misogyny is excused, rape jokes laughed at, cat-calling condoned. Until another womxn dies.

And we think 16 days is enough?

See also:

Column by Conor Engelbrecht

The views expressed herein are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the views of Portal Publishing.

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