We commemorate Youth Day and an end to violence against young people but for many people in South Africa, violence continues to be part of their daily experience, says the writer. File picture: Independent Media
Young women, young homosexual men and children deserve to be free from the fear of violence, writes Thoko Miya.

South Africa celebrates 23 years of democracy and freedom from political and economic oppression based on race, tribalism and racial marginalisation yet gender-based violence continues to be a challenge across the country.

We commemorate Youth Day and an end to violence against young people but for many in South Africa, violence continues to be part of their daily experience.

It is time South Africa develops a multi-disciplinary approach towards deconstructing, preventing and healing from the effects of all violence but especially gender-based violence.

Despite constitutional protection against discrimination based on a person’s gender and sexual orientation, gender-based violence continues to be a major problem for women, girls, homosexual men and young boys.

While there are organisations such as Sonke Gender Justice, SWEAT and The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation there needs to be more done to end this war.

Violence against women is often inflicted by someone they know. Sometimes it is done because of a woman’s sexual preference of other women or because they don’t conform to the gender roles expected from them.

This culture of defining people on a scale of either masculinity or femininity often causes women and homosexual men to be the victims of brutal attacks.

Narrowing the potential for this kind of acts to take place can only come through the effective destruction of gender stereotypes and roles.

In some South African communities in, homosexuality is seen as a deviation from accepted and expected male and female behaviour and gender roles.

Women who identify as lesbian are raped in what is known as “corrective rape”.

This rape is done in order to “remind these women – who usually dress and identify as male – that they are still women and still under men’s power". Men who have sex with men also experience violence in different forms from verbal abuse to physical abuse.

Girls and boys are also the victims of sexual and physical violence as they are young and vulnerable and unable to protect themselves from the adults who are the perpetrators of these crimes.

The use of violence in any society particularly as a mechanism of oppression and/to perpetuate misogyny, sexism, and intolerance towards homosexuality shows a fundamental problem within a society. 

Young women, young homosexual men and children deserve to be free from the fear of violence. The war on the bodies of the vulnerable must stop.

* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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