Make time to teach your sons about consent so we can end violence against women in SA
By Tina Thiart
Recognised as having one of the highest rates of rape and domestic violence in the world, according to the South Africa 2020 Crime and Safety Report, the frequency at which women in the country are murdered by their partners is also five times higher than the global average, according to the World Health Organization.
There are 114 rapes reported every day. Between April and June this year, there were 65 femicides, 122 attempted femicides, 2 413 assaults with the intention of causing grievous bodily harm and 6 214 common assaults on women that were reported to the police. The crimes were attributed to domestic violence and abuse.
Five months on and there is no evidence that the situation is improving. The figures are set to rise with the lifting of alcohol restrictions.
Our girls have more chance of being raped than learning to read. Sickeningly, from babies and girls to elderly women, all females are targets for rape, abuse and murder. Something needs to be done.
Last week our NGO, 1000 Women, launched a campaign urging parents to pledge to #MakeTime to speak to our sons, to teach them about consent, boundaries and respect for women – and through this act, join the cause of fighting against gender-based violence.
The campaign centres on Krissy Doll, that appears to have been brutally assaulted, exhibiting the hallmarks of domestic violence. In a digital film, two girls are putting make-up on the doll’s face to cover up cuts and bruises.
Krissy Doll is a strong denotation of how women cover up or hide the abuse or violence inflicted upon them. By showing a potential future in which girls accept battered and bruised dolls as the norm, we are hoping to shock South Africans into having critical conversations with their sons.
To assist adults in navigating the difficult conversations, 1000 Women have made free digital resources available at maketime.org.za. The site hosts age-appropriate talking points and tips on how to speak to boys from the age of 1 to young men in their teens, an auto-calendar function to set a reminder to make time, and the option to share a pledge to #MakeTime on Facebook and Twitter to drive further awareness of the need to “teach our sons the right way”.
If every South African took half an hour a month to talk to their sons, or boys in their care, about the right way to think and act, consent, boundaries and respect for women, we would see less violence, abuse, rape and murder.
Women also need to rethink how they view themselves. It will never be possible to eliminate violence against women while there are women who believe it is acceptable to be hit by a man, while not understanding their constitutional rights or what is regarded as socially unacceptable behaviour.
We need to help our daughters understand that abuse is not okay and should not be covered up. We can’t remain silent, we need to speak up if we want change.
We hope every South African will have these conversations with our children from an early age, so that it becomes a social norm and prevents these crimes from following our daughters into the future.
Visit maketime.org.za and join the conversation at #MakeTime on social media.
Tina Thiart is a co-founder of 1000 Women which is an NGO that creates awareness, organises safe spaces for women and mobilises resources to amplify the voices of women and girls.