The atrocities of gender-based violence that have occurred recently across South Africa, has brought the nation to its knees.
A report conducted by Stats SA in 2018 states that femicide in our country is 5 times higher than the global average. This essentially means that in South Africa, women are five times more likely to be killed due to gender-based violence committed by men, than anywhere else in the world.
The women of South Africa are collectively saying: “Enough is enough.”
With the recent march to parliament against gender-based violence, while peaceful, the rage in attendees was palpable. Among the emotive placards, #MenAreTrash stood out for me.
The Men Are Trash movement began in 2016, and among many things, calls out toxic masculinity and its impact on society. The movement does acknowledge that not all men are trash and that there are good men. Now, more than ever, is the time for these good men to stand up and prove themselves.
Gender-based violence is not a women-only issue. The good men of South Africa can step up to their claims and help combat the plague of gender-based violence. Sign the petition to declare gender-based violence a state of emergency in South Africa. On Saturday, September 21, attend the march to end femicide in South Africa.
Participate in the Lion’s Head Hike for Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust taking place on September 29, 2019 to show your support for this heartbreaking cause. Join the Facebook group #JustMen and join in on the conversation on how to tackle toxic masculinity in South Africa. Work on your own issues, through a councillor or through the Mankind Project, a men’s development organisation.
Every Monday, gather your male colleagues, friends, family or strangers and stand outside on the street for nine minutes. In these nine minutes, reflect on what it must be like to feel unsafe, unprotected, objectified and afraid for your life.
In your immediate social circles, call your friends out when they objectify and sexualise women, as these words dehumanise us. Have the mindset of “This behaviour stops with me.” If you know someone who has committed a crime against a woman, report them. Turning a blind eye makes you complicit to the crime. If a woman confides in you about a non-consensual sexual encounter, listen to her. If she wants to report the crime then help her to do so.
Women walk around a lot in this city, and having a male companion makes us feel somewhat safer than being alone. If you were to be confronted by an attacker carrying a weapon, most people wouldn’t know how to get out of the situation safely. Attend a self-defence class that will equip you with the skills of how to protect a woman against an attacker. There’s a difference between knowing how to fight and how to protect.
It is not up to the women to learn how to be more careful. It’s up to the men of this country to not cat-call, tell us to smile, touch, grope, rape and murder us.
Images: Yann Macherez / Momentum Production