The other half of the conversation: Osrin and daily violence

Dela Gwala
Dela Gwala

By Dela Gwala

Last year, Tim Osrin made the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town infamous by attacking Cynthia Joni because he thought she was a sex worker. Five UCT students cemented this new found infamy by assaulting Delia Adonis on the pavements of Claremont. “ Racially-motivated” attacks is what the headlines cried. But in both these cases that was only part of the conversation. Adonis’s attackers were reported to have called her a “coloured cunt” and Osrin seemed to have drawn his conclusion about Joni simply because she was black, female and standing on a street corner in Kenilworth. The gender politics of both these stories just about got a cursory mention.

If walking is how you make your way around the streets of Cape Town, then open air incidents of gender-based violence are often a part of your daily commute.  During the weeks that accusations of racism dominated discourse about Cape Town, I walked into three incidents of physical and verbal violence taking place on the pristine pavements of the Southern Suburbs.  In Newlands, I watched a man grab a woman around her throat and scream threats at her as she walked away. Back in Claremont, I saw a man drag a woman down the street by her braids. Further along main road, I witnessed a gaatjie (taxi door operator and fare collector) pull a knife on a woman for talking back to him.

There is no headline here – no newsroom would ever report on these incidents. We live in a country where rape is calculated per minute and femicide per hour, but gender has still not quite made the national agenda. The furore around the racist attacks last year collided with 16 days of activism against violence against women. Parliament was in the spotlight as the country’s new source of entertainment but not even that brought eyeballs and eardrums to the 2 hour joint sitting when gender-based issues were debated.

To give a quick recap:  ANC MPs complained about opposition MPs taking photos in parliament. Then MP Mandla Mandela complained about a DA member chewing chappies then later on mockingly referred to another DA MP as “ Miss South Africa”. After that Opposition MPs accused the Chairperson (Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli) of not being consistent because MPs took pictures of EFF members last time. Later on, DA Chief Whip complained that Minister of Women in the Presidency Susan Shabangu had called him “mad”. A he said, she said ensued. Then the DA Chief Whip said that another ANC MP had called him a liar. Between eruptions of laughter, calls to retract statements and heckling, the chairperson called this grown up playground a “disgrace”.

Where are we now? Tim Osrin is expected to skip off into the sunset thanks to a plea bargain – it’s likely that he will take part in a community programme instead of serving jail time. On a national scale, there is still no comprehensive plan of action to tackle gender-based violence. There is basically no national policy or programme to fund even though it’s costing the country R 28.4 billion  to R 42.2 bilion to ignore this issue.  In Johannesburg, a restaurant manager has been accused of being racist for shouting at two black female patrons and telling them they need a “good shagging” or a “ fuck”. Barely anyone noticed or acknowledged that these statements were also deeply sexist.

Gender issues have been treated like an unwanted add-on to the national conversation since the TRC days.  Statement takers who were on the frontlines of uncovering truths about apartheid era abuses often didn’t think that incidents of sexual violence or any other form of gender-based violations were even worth recording. These issues were not considered politically significant or worthy of a spot in the national dialogue. Two decades later, It’s why no one flinches when the department of women in the presidency suggests prayer and candle vigils as the plan of action to combat a pandemic that ruthlessly claims the lives of women. It’s why police vans can simply drive past while women are being assaulted on the streets of the Southern Suburbs. It’s why South Africans hardly notice sexism and misogyny even when it’s the not-so well hidden subtext screaming at them from national headlines.


Dela Gwala is a full-time feminist and post-grad student at UCT. She has an honours degree in International Relations but has jumped ship from the politics department to take on an MA in Creative Writing. She spends a ridiculous amount of time on social media moderating a Facebook page called Guerrilla Feminism South Africa. Find her on Twitter @indie1activist and read more of her writing on her blog


Confronting Birth Violence in South Africa

Rachelle Chadwick
Rachelle Chadwick
Marion Stevens
Marion Stevens

By Rachelle Chadwick and Marion Stevens

We know that gender and sexual violence are major problems in South Africa. We know that we have shockingly high rates of rape, domestic violence and femicide. What is not always recognised however is a different form of violence against women. This is violence that is perpetrated predominantly by women and which targets other women when they are in one of their most vulnerable moments. We are talking here about birth violence that happens to women during labour and when they are giving birth to a new life. While reports of abuse in maternal health services have been fairly widespread since the early 1990s, these incidents are often not framed as a form of violence against women. Some view these incidents as the work of a few bad apples and not indicative of wider attitudes. We know from writing on the issue that the factors involved are complex and multiple, including an over-burdened public health system, lack of resources, highly stressed staff and health-care providers and a long apartheid legacy that still marks our healthcare system. We appreciate the point made by others [i] that healthcare-workers, nurses and midwives need to be validated, supported and cared for so that they can do the work of caring for women during labour and birth. This is important. At the same time, however, we feel that something about this issue is being squashed and silenced.

Shouting at and insulting women, engaging in forms of physical violence such as slapping and rough treatment and deliberately shaming, humiliating and neglecting women during one of the most vulnerable moments of their lives is unacceptable. It is unacceptable regardless of work-loads, lack of support or difficult working conditions. That our healthcare system and society at large continues to largely ignore, and in some cases tolerates these abuses, is indicative of a much wider problem of gender relations in South Africa. Of course it is not simply women in general who are the recipients of such abuse. Privileged and middle-class women, protected by their resources and cultural capital, usually escape gross mistreatment. Other forms of obstetric violence (such as unnecessary caesarean section) however do still occur in the private healthcare system. However, it is predominantly poor and marginalised women (including teenage and HIV-positive mothers) that are targets of violence.

Abuses often seem fuelled by normative ideas about who is a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ mother. Being poor and coming to a public health clinic without appropriate baby clothes and supplies often automatically marks a woman as a ‘bad mother’ who is then sometimes punished by healthcare providers through insults or deliberate shaming. [ii] Other forms of violence, often not recognised or reported, are institutional in nature and involve the shoddy treatment of women in general in public sector health clinics. Examples include dirty toilets, spatial arrangements at maternal obstetric units which do not allow for any privacy during birth and which often preclude women being allowed to have a partner or companion with them during labour, lack of basic supplies such as blankets, pillows and cutlery (one woman told of how all the women had to share one mug) and not being offered any food after going through the exhausting process of labour and birth [ii].We have to ask serious questions about this mistreatment of women. Why has the National Department of Health (NDoH) been so reluctant to address these problems despite evidence of abuses reported since the 1990s? What does this mistreatment and abuse say about how our society sees and values women?

Thankfully there are signs that efforts are being made to begin to address these issues. There have been calls for increased accountability and institutional reform by some academic obstetric departments (such as the University of Cape Town). The Human Rights Watch also pulled no punches in their report on maternal health abuses in 2011, which was tellingly titled, ‘Stop making excuses’ [iii]. Pressure on various fronts has led to some notable recent actions, including the passing of a policy in 2013 by the Western Cape Department of Health (WCDoH) called the ‘Code of Practice for Patient-Centred Maternal Care’. There has also been the introduction of a new national mobile health programme, ‘Momconnect’ which will enable women to directly report abuses. A hotline has also been set up in the Western Cape to make complaints (0860 142 142). At the same time, however, the NDoH has not widely supported or allocated funding for attempts being made in the Western Cape to address these problems. There thus still seems to be a shocking lack of will by governmental bodies to tackle abuse and violence in maternal healthcare settings.

We have to begin to ask why? Perhaps it is difficult or disturbing to recognise a form of violence against women that is perpetrated largely by women ‘caregivers’. Perhaps wider societal attitudes and discriminatory stances towards poor and marginalized women regard the ‘care’ received in public health settings as ‘good enough’ for them. Maybe wider society and government just don’t care about how low-income women are treated. Maybe society in general fails to value women’s reproductive labours and life-giving efforts. Maybe we just don’t value mothers or the precious new lives that they give birth to? One thing is certain – the ways in which women are treated during the vulnerable time of labour and birth says a lot about wider societal and governmental attitudes towards women. We need to confront and expose these unacceptable attitudes. As a nation we can no longer simply ignore or tacitly tolerate these abuses.



  1. Honikman, S . & Meintjies, I. ‘Nurses are stressed, ill-treated, burdened’, Cape Times, 9 September 2011.
  2. Rachelle Chadwick, ‘The right to dignity in childbirth’, National Research Foundation Report, 2013.

  • Human Rights Watch, ‘Stop making excuses: accountability for maternal health in South Africa’, 2011.


Rachelle Chadwick is a lecturer and Research Career Fellow in Gender Studies (School of African & Gender Studies, Anthropology & Linguistics) at the University of Cape Town. She has a PhD in Psychology from the University of Cape Town. Rachelle is a recipient of a National Research Foundation Research Career Advancement Award and is currently working on a new research project titled, ‘Intimate ethnographies of giving life: the bodily-emotional worlds of childbearing for low-income South African women and their partners’. She has published research articles and book chapters in the areas of qualitative methodology, gender theory, sexuality, childbirth, embodiment, narrative resistance and reproductive health.


Marion Stevens has a background as a midwife, in medical anthropology and in public and development. She has worked in the area of sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS for some 20 years. She is currently the coordinator of WISH Associates (Women in Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health) a network of nine South African consultant activists and a research associate at the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town.









Harfield Village: The bold and the befok

Jen Thorpe, feminism, South Africa, feminist
Jen Thorpe

By Jen Thorpe

I moved to Harfield Village in April last year. For a little village that basically lies between two roads (Imam Haron and Kenilworth Road) this place has a lot of issues.

During the time I’ve lived here I’ve witnessed two domestic violence assaults in the street whilst others walked by. The first, described here, was in June and when I called the police, they didn’t respond. On many occasions since I’ve since seen this couple still walking the streets together, their faces set in grim determination. My heart breaks a little every time.

The second, described briefly in the first, second and last stanzas of this poem, happened in September and resulted in the most drawn out interaction with the Claremont police station a person can ever imagine. Suffice to say: they didn’t have the right documents, didn’t want to take a statement, tried to put her in the back of the van with her abuser, refused to open a case, told her she’d never report, didn’t have a printer to give me a copy of my statement, lost my statement, made me give my statement again at another station, lost that somehow, and never really resolved the issue of the failure to give people copies of their statement several months later. This attack was also witnessed by two builders, less than five metres away from the couple, who did nothing, and then verbally abused me the next day for shouting at them for doing nothing. ‘Who the f**k did I think I was to ask them to stop him from hitting her?’ Um, a human being.

Also during this time I have witnessed an elderly white man set his dog on two young black women walking back from Rosmead Spar one evening. The dog viciously barked at and attacked the screaming women before the old white man gently whistled and it ran into his property. He walked in, no sound at all, while the women were left to recover their wits. When I confronted him about why he had done this and had not apologised to the two ladies, his response was ‘I didn’t see any ladies.’ I called my councillor, Mr Kempthorne, who suggested that I read the animal bylaws to see if the old man had done anything wrong (in general, I think this was probably something he should have known, and also general racism isn’t in the animal bylaws, but anyway). In fact, this angry old white dude had infringed by having a dangerous dog without a leash walking around so I delivered a copy of the bylaws, highlighted, to his mailbox, and Mr Kempthorne also asked his office to send someone to talk to the man. Despite my angry eyeballing of his house whenever I walk past, I have seen no more of this racist white man and his dog. But I’m sure he’s still in there.

Also during this time I have been called to a community meeting to discuss ‘security concerns’ where it was clear some form of collusion between the village association and a major security service provider had happened, and where community protests at the exclusion of smaller service providers were met with shut downs from the Chairman of the HVA (but only after he’d asked us if we wouldn’t mind giving a donation because he’d actually spent quite a lot of our annual fees on hiring the venue and the sound equipment). As those of us who thought this meeting a laughing stock walked out, we were threatened with the idea that ‘if we didn’t do something now crime would only get worse.’ A week later, after making the news for this general circus, the security tender was revised, and somehow they all managed to work together in a non-collusive way to protect us all. For a small monthly fee.

So, if what happens outside the houses of Harfield is anything to go by, it is a pretty complicated place full of racism, security threats, inefficient policing, domestic violence, and a bunch of white dudes making decisions for all of us. If that isn’t bad enough, let’s explore what happens inside the homes of Harfield. The easiest way to do this, is to go online.

A few months after living here I was alerted to the existence of the Harfield Village Association closed Facebook Group. Whilst I thought the assault of Cynthia Joni nearby was enough of an example of the racism, classism and sexism that prevails in this community, I was not fully alerted to the unashamed commitment to these beliefs until I encountered this ill-moderated page. On this page, ostensibly set up so the members of Harfield can talk about the community, build community projects, and share information about great service providers in the area, things only get worse. It appears that in fact, inside their homes, Harfield Villagers (or at least some of them) are even more racist and offensive than they let on outdoors. A summary sentence would be: ‘non-white’ is still a category of person for these people.

Examples include alerting other villagers when there are ‘non-whites’ in the area who are not expected to be there (this of course doesn’t happen if those ‘non-whites’ are gardening, cleaning, taking away rubbish, within strict areas, so you can see which house they belong to, in which instances the village welcomes them) or coming up with creative solutions to homeless people asleep on the pavement (see this post, where a suggestion includes ‘let’s tar over them’). This is also a site to sex-worker spot, and to alert other villagers to the general deterioration of the social fabric as referenced by the presence of women making a living (I saw one having sex in the park! says one resident). When I proposed a community discussion on the topic of sex work, of course the resident who had started the whole complaints process said she wouldn’t come (what if she had to realise they were humans!??!). In addition, when the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce approached the Kenilworth councillor to discuss the issue, he refused to engage citing that ‘sex work is a crime’ and we must bring the full force of the law down on sex workers (as an aside, I don’t know any sex workers who work in areas where there are no demands for their service. But I digress..). If you’re interested in supporting the human rights of sex workers, there is a protest march on the 20th to his office organised by SWEAT (Tuesday 20th January, meet at Wynberg Magistrates court at 9am).

The Harfield Village Association page allows what can only be seen as values antithetical to constitutional ones to flourish, unmoderated and without recourse. It should have a tagline ‘Abandon all hope ye who enter here’.

At a feminist meeting group the other evening friends and I discussed how the use of social media allows us to curate our realities – we follow people who are often of the same beliefs as us, we google search only things that reinforce our particular world view, we unfriend those Facebook friends who say things we don’t agree with, and essentially what we end up doing is living in a bubble where people are either as liberal or conservative as we are. We begin to believe that most people think like us. This is dangerous because it means we withdraw from spaces where our views are different, and we begin to lose our skill for arguing for the values we hold dear.

The Harfield Village Association page is one place where this appears completely true. As it becomes more an more a site for white middle-class people to voice and echo disdain for anyone other than them, the more liberal members of the area exit, and join the other page ‘The Harfield Youth League.’ This leaves these racist, sexist, awful people to pat each other on the back for a job well done and to continue with their diatribes of exclusion. This leaves them thinking that they are in the majority when they’re inside their homes and this mentality can only spill out onto the streets. I think it’s time for those of us who left the page emotionally scarred and exhausted to take a breath and dive back in (if they’ll accept our request) because there is nothing more true than this quote:

“Silence in the the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor” Ginetta Sagan

Keeping women “safe” can be dangerous

Joy Watson
Joy Watson

by Joy Watson


Rape stats not improving, court stats even worse

The recently released crime statistics indicate a slight drop in the number of reported cases of sexual offences, from 66 387 in 2012/13 to 62 649 in 2013/14. Over the course of the past few years, the trend has been to drop, then increase again and then drop again at different points in time. In 2004/05, for example, there were 69 117 reported cases. By 2007/08, this had dropped to 63 818. In 2008/09, it increased again to 70 514, dropped to 64 514 in 2011/12 and then increased to 66 387 in 2012/13.

The pattern that emerges is not one of a steady decline as a result of a coherent, targeted strategy to eradicate sexual offences. Equally concerning, is the fact a small fraction of the total number of reported cases eventually go to court. In 2007/08, 6.8% of the total number of sexual offences went to court. Of the total number of cases reported to the police, 4.5% resulted in convictions. This improved marginally in 2008/09, when 7.5% of the total cases reported went to court and 5% of the total cases reported resulted in convictions. For the next two years, there was no reporting on the related statistics. In 2011/12, there was a marginal improvement with 10.7% of the total number of reported cases going to court and 6.97% of the total cases reported resulted in convictions. The subliminal message is abundantly clear – a rapist has to be extremely unlucky to get convicted.

The reasons for the vast majority of sexual offences cases not going to court varies. Some cases are eventually withdrawn by the victim, largely as a result of secondary victimisation in the criminal justice system. In other instances, the National Prosecuting Authority will drop a case if it seems as if though there is not enough evidence to support it. This is a contentious matter as forensic evidence is an important part of deciding whether or not a case can potentially be won in court.  Yet, there are significant delays in securing forensic evidence and even where it is secured, the accused can argue that sex was consensual.

We need new strategies

The fact that there is no coherent, inter-departmental strategy on the part of the state to deal with rape is one of the main reasons why we see no real improvement in addressing the issue of rape.

Much of the state and media discourse in this regard has focused on the notion of protectionism, namely, that women need to be kept safe from harm and navigate their way cautiously in public spaces, particularly at night. Embedded within this narrative of danger is the underlying view that “bad” women ask for trouble, and that women who conform to the tacit rules of how to dress, where to walk, when to be out etc., will be “safe”. Restrictions on women’s mobility are therefore sanctioned by rationalizing that it is in the interest of their safety.

Yet, rape has confounded this myth. Even “good” women who conform to the rules have been raped and the disproportionate focus on the danger to women in public spaces appears to ignore the reality that women seem to face more violence in private rather than public spaces.

Furthermore, the language of protection and safety is couched within a problematic framework of concern for women’s sexual virtue. It obliterates the fact that the everyday acts of violence such as catcalls and comments directed at women on the streets are linked to more brutal forms of violence such as rape. These daily, repetitive acts of intrusion and harassment which women are expected to take in their stride, creates the kind of social context where more brutal forms of harassment can take place.

In the longer term, the better strategy is for women to enhance their claim to public spaces as notions of protectionism and keeping women safe ultimately limit life choices and restrict mobility. This in itself can be seen as a form of violence. In the process of doing this, violence is something that needs to be contended with and addressed at its roots, that of structural social inequity. This will require that we think differently about violence against women – placing it not in opposition to risk and pleasure, but alongside them and understanding what these terms mean in their own right and when connected to each other.



Black bodies not for your abuse Osrin

Jen Thorpe, feminism, women, South Africa
Jen Thorpe

By Jen Thorpe

Cape Town swimming coach Tim Osrin was arrested last week when he allegedly beat up a middle-aged domestic worker, Cynthia Joni, in the middle of the day without the two ever having said anything to one another. Osrin was driving his car along a road, saw Joni, and stopped his car to beat her up. She sustained multiple injuries. His explanation for this – he thought she was a prostitute. He is quoted as saying “I just snapped. It is a result of the years of stress of having these people in our area.”

To add fuel to fire, when charges were laid against him, Osrin said that Joni had ‘trumped up the charges’ because he was white, and was probably thinking “here comes my Christmas box.” A petition to Virgin Active to remove Osrin from their team of swimming coaches, and make true their commitments to a non-racist society, was successful. His case has been postponed to 27 November at the Wynberg Magistrates Court.

I think it’s important that we unpack this crime for the very many layers of ‘isms’ and wrong doings based on Osrin’s statements.He reveals particular prejudice about sex workers, black women,

1. “I just snapped. It is a result of the years of stress of having these people in our area.”

If you’re hearing loud sounds it’s because you’ve stepped on a minefield. Unpacking the layers of privilege in this statement could take all day but let’s go step by step.

A: These people:

In this statement Osrin was referring to his belief that Joni was a sex worker. Sex work is criminalised in South Africa. Whilst everyone is entitled to their own opinion about the decriminalisation/legalisation of sex work (if your opinion isn’t an informed one I suggest you engage with SWEAT) there are certain facts that are important. These are:

  • Sex workers are people and have human rights like everyone else including the right to be free from violence.
  • It is not acceptable to assault someone because you disagree with their career.
  • Someone being a sex worker doesn’t mean is not an explanation for someone else’s violence.

The point that Joni is not, in fact, a sex worker is discussed in B below. But even if she was, this doesn’t legitimate his violence.

B: These people in our area:

Osrin never explained why he thought Joni was a prostitute, and it seems the only marker that identified her as one of these people in his area was the fact that she was black. The assumption then is that Osrin had some misplaced belief that black people walking in Kenilworth don’t live there, or work there, and if they do work there it’s as a sex worker. This type of active stupidity is not exclusive to Osrin.

This is linked to the racist patriarchal hypersexualisation of black female bodies, to white male privilege that says women are not allowed to choose what they do with their bodies, and to racism that assumes that black people do not have legitimate space in ‘white’ areas like Tim’s (see D below). All of this, is quite frankly, bullshit and should no longer be tolerated as an explanation or excuse for violence.

Deliberate ignorance should not be seen as a mitigating factor in his case.

C: I just snapped: 

Assault is not a legitimate response to frustration. So the excuse that he snapped, unless he had some sort of mental break that reduced his criminal liability (which I doubt because he was able to drive off in his car, and to give subsequent statements to the media), then he was directly responsible for his choice to beat someone up who had not instigated any violence against him.

If Osrin has in fact ‘snapped’ then he should be admitted for psychiatric evaluation before he can stand trial.

Importantly, it must be made clear in this case that violence against sex workers is unacceptable. Particularly because this type of violence can be considered a hate crime – it is motivated by hatred for sex workers as a group and sends a message to other sex workers that it is not safe in that area.

D: Our area: 

Public spaces, including streets, are, well, public. Anyone is entitled to walk in any area that is not access controlled. So it’s not actually your area Tim, it’s Kenilworth, and Joni has every right to be there.

E: The prevalence of sex workers in Kenilworth as a cause for concern

Sex workers are workers. This means that they often work in places where there is a demand for their services. I’m not quite clear on why this is a problem, and don’t agree that having sex workers in an area automatically brings shame/disgrace to an area.

However, Osrin alleges that the sex workers expose themselves to children in the area, and this is certainly not acceptable and criminal behaviour. In the same way that sex workers are entitled to be in public spaces, children are entitled to live in spaces free from violence. This behaviour, if it is happening, cannot be condoned.

So if Mr Osrin seeks to address the issue, perhaps what would be more useful than assaulting individual women, would be a community dialogue with sex workers, sex worker organisations, community members, etc to discuss why sex work is thought to be a problem, and how the community feels about it, given that sex workers are clearly part of the community.

I think that type of dialogue is an imperative after such an incident of violence, and that it should happen as soon as possible.

2. Here comes my Christmas Box

Osrin’s counter allegation is that Joni is trumping up the extent of her injuries in order to exploit him in some way. This statement points to some racist and sexist assumptions:

  • Black people do not tell the truth – of course, Joni couldn’t just be detailing her injuries.
  • Black people are out to exploit white people and see white people only as a source of personal enrichment – through laying charges, Joni wasn’t trying to achieve justice or prevent Osrin from assaulting other unsuspecting women, but was trying to get money out of him through a court settlement.
  • Women don’t tell the truth – her injuries were probably not as bad as she said they were (if you see the earlier links, he only slapped her once, so ‘any injuries she sustained were a result of her fall’).

These assumptions seek to undermine Joni’s right to report violence against her, and will certainly cause secondary vicitimisation. Women who are abused face discrimination from police often, and their injuries or lack thereof are often commented on in court cases. What is important is that this was a physical assault, and secondly it was an assault to Joni’s dignity.

3. Shock is not enough, we need action

It’s clear that Osrin is a complex guy – he is angry, violent, mistrustful, racist and sexist. Part of ensuring that incidents like this don’t happen again is removing the conditions for their acceptability – addressing the intersectionality (the ways that his various prejudices converged upon a black female body and not a white female body, or a rich black body, or a white male body) that facilitated this abuse. It’s important that stereotypes and racist and sexist assumptions like those that Osrin made are addressed at a community level.

I think it is vital for the Kenilworth, Harfield, Claremont village associations and ward councillors to host a discussion inviting all members of the community to discuss the following:

  • racism
  • violence
  • socioeconomic inequality
  • sex work

And I’m sure a number of other areas. If you live in an area where you face similar issues, then I suggest you contact your councillor and ask for a dialogue.

If you would like to do more, and participate in an event outside the court where Osrin’s case will be held on 27 November you can find details of one here.

9 August – A poem

Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith

By Jonathan Smith

09 August

A day, They say,

We will give them a day.

A day to honour, respect, love:

to show We Care.



Those grey, They say, We recall the grey.

The march, the mettle, the martyrdom

the equality won:

We Care.



But a Day?

They say. A whole Bloody day?

Suppose 364 in ration to 1 will show that

We Care.



More pay!

they say they want equal pay.

Since when is 24 hours not enough;

surely the day proves We Care?




They say, on this day, no talk of rape.

We give you a day, a doek, a talk.

We Care.



We do Care

They say, We gave you a day.

Be happy: now it is time for supper

and bed.

Call For Volunteer Translators: Support The 16 Days Of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign!

Are you fluent in English and another language? Translate advocacy materials for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign!

The 16 Days Campaign is seeking volunteer translators for the Theme Announcement (available here) and for other advocacy materials in the 16 Days Campaign “Take Action Kit”. For an example of what to expect, you can take a look at last year’s Kits, available online in Word and PDF format (available here).
You can support activists’ work to end gender-based violence and militarism for a peaceful tomorrow by using your translation skills. Email us at and let us know the following information:

  • To which language will you translate the 16 Days Campaign advocacy materials?
  • Can you translate the whole kit (about 12 sheets or 19 pages total) or just the Theme Announcement (2 pages)?

Email us at to let us know of your availability! Please, feel free to share this with others.

Article License: Copyright – Article License Holder: 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign – CWGL
This post was sourced from the Association of Women in Development Website.


I am not your punching bag

By Ritah Atwongyeire

You beat when food gets burnt,

You beat me when food doesn’t get ready on time,

You beat me when another man greets me,

You beat when children do wrong calling me a bad mother,

You beat me when you don’t make money saying that I have bad luck,

You even beat me when I keep quite.

Though you beat me I am not your punching bag.


You have beaten all the love out of me,

You have beaten all the respect out of me,

You have beaten all the feelings out of me,

You have beaten all the emotion out of me,

But even though you have beaten me I am not your punching bag.

This piece was written during the African Women’s Development Fund and Femrite African Women Creative Non-Fiction Writing Workshop in Uganda, July 2014.

A House of Horrors

Tam Sutherns
Tam Sutherns

By Tam Sutherns

Stories of child abuse and women abuse going on behind closed doors have made headlines for years. Who can forget Austrian’s Josef Fritzl, who kept his daughter in a room underneath his house, sexually assaulted her and abused her and continued to keep her imprisoned after she mothered seven of his children?

Or Ohio’s Ariel Castro, who kidnapped and imprisoned Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Georgina ‘Gina’ DeJesus in his home, sexually and physically abusing them?

Latest to emerge is South Africa’s very own House of Horrors in Springs in the East Rand of Johannesburg. The home was raided and a man was arrested and accused of holding his wife and five children prisoner and torturing them. This man allegedly raped his wife multiple times, exposed his children to pornographic material and severely assaulting his 11-year-old son, including punching him in the face, hanging him from the wrists for two days using a rope and using teargas on him.

The man was arrested after the 11-year-old boy escaped from the house and ran to a neighbour’s house. The neighbours called the police and the boy’s father, who allegedly took him home and assaulted him, according to News24 articles. When police arrived at the scene the next day they found four other children living in the house along with their mother. The boy had allegedly been hidden in the ceiling. The woman alledgedly reported that her husband had abused the family repeatedly, including with electric wires and a blowtorch.

More shocking is the fact that neighbours to this house were unaware that children even lived in the house. On News24, one neighbour reported that she was shocked that she lived next door to such a man and described him as smart and tidy and that he always wore expensive clothes. She was unaware that there were children in the home – the children allegedly did not ever attend school.

In a country where we live behind gated fences and secure walls, could it be possible that the danger is not always what we are keeping out but what we are holding in? The South African Police Service statistics show that between April 2011 and March 2012,  793 children were murdered, over 20 000 children were victims of assault and there were 25 862 sexual offences involving children. There is something grossly wrong with these numbers and it begs the question, we may be doing everything we can to protect ourselves from crime, but what are we doing to look after our community and protect our children from abuse? Do we know enough about what is happening in the very street we live in?

On 23 June, two women will be appear in court on charges of assault and child abuse after a video of a 21-month-year-old toddler gagged and tied up at a creche in Rosettenville went viral. A man also appeared in the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court in June this month after he allegedly locked up his four children in a hostel for eight years for their “own safety”.

The justice system in South Africa can be a long and tedious process, especially for victims of abuse. However, there are cases where justice is served. In April this year, Xolile Tose was sentenced to life in prison in the Eastern Cape High Court for raping a six-year-old girl in 2011. Shinawaaz Ahmento and Kyle Fredericks received 23 years and 15 years respectively for raping and strangling Tracey-Lee Martins in 2013.

While we can fight for harsher sentences and justice after the crime, the point is that no one should feel afraid, violated or tortured in their own home. Will these children from the House of Horros be moved into homes where they will feel safe, loved and protected? Is there a way for women like Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry or Gina DeJesus to feel safe in a home again? Will Josef Fritzl’s daughter ever recover?

Ariel Castro committed suicide, escaping punishment for the years he spent ruining lives. Josef Fritzl will spend the rest of his life in jail. The Johannesburg man accused in the House of Horrors incidents attempted to commit suicide by slitting his wrists. While no punishment would be fit for a crime of this nature and nothing will erase what his family have had to endure, suicide is not punishment. He needs to be held accountable for the pain and the torture that he has dished out and for the abuse of these human beings.

While it is too late to change what this man has done, we can call for justice as well as begin to foster a better sense of community and care where these acts are known about and are unacceptable.

Follow #HouseofHorrors on Twitter, have your say and let’s make sure that not only is justice served but that we learn a very big lesson here and start to wage a war on abuse. It’s time that the world sits up and takes notice and that the human beings violated and abused in this instance are heard. Let’s show the world that South Africans are capable of making sure our children and our women are looked after and safe. Before and not after the act.


Call For Abstracts: 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium- Men And Boys For Gender Justice

The 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium- Men and Boys for Gender Justice will be held in New Delhi, India from 10th- 13th November 2014. We are pleased to announce that the deadline for submission of abstracts has been extended to 15 June 2014.

Please hurry and send in your abstract forms!

The Abstracts may be in English, Hindi, French or Spanish. The details of registration and other rules and fees can be read in the FAQs online at

The abstracts will need to be submitted around the seven interdisciplinary key tracks of the Symposium:

1. Violence
2. Health and Wellbeing
3. Poverty and Work
4. Sexualities, Identities
5. Care, Relationships and Emotions
6. Peace building
7. Making of Men – from masculinity to humanity

You can read more about the seven tracks from the Symposium’s website

Please get in touch with the Symposium Secretariat at for any queries or comments.

First seen on the AWID website here

During Child Protection Month, Sonke Gender Justice calls on parents and caregivers to cease spanking

June 2, 2014

It takes 28 days to change a habit – use Child Protection Month to improve your parenting habits!

‘I never spanked my child, even though everyone around me was doing it. Today she is an adult, and tells me that it helped her to grow into a responsible and caring person.’ – Mbuyiselo Botha – Father, grandfather and activist

Physical punishment of children is contrary to our own constitution, and to several international treaties that we have signed as a country. Quality research studies from Africa and the rest of the world have proven that there are much better ways to discipline children that do not depend on using physical punishment or spanking. They have also shown that even the so-called ‘little slaps’ can be harmful in the long-term, impacting on children’s social and emotional development.

Parents usually don’t like spanking their children, but they don’t know what else to do. The starting point for positive discipline is for parents to think about the long-term goals for children, rather than the short-term goals.

‘So while it’s urgent for her to put on her school jersey right now, you also want to remember that you want her to grow up as a caring person one day. Take a deep breath, calm down and tell her why it’s important to keep warm. And remember that children copy everything adults do, so if you want to teach her a lesson, she’ll copy that and want to teach you a lesson!’ – Wessel van den Berg – Kindergarten teacher and parent.

Using positive discipline is also a smart way to prevent violence in the long term, since children grow up learning that problems are not solved through violence, but through thinking and negotiating.

Sonke is calling on all parents and caregivers in South Africa to avoid spanking for one week, and then to decide about the best method to manage their children’s behaviour.

In 2015 the Children’s Act is due to be amended. Sonke and the Working Group on Positive Discipline are advocating for the use of positive discipline and the prohibition of physical punishment in home. This will not criminalise parents, since the removal of the parent from the child’s environment is obviously not in the best interest of the child. It will rather encourage healthy and caring relationships between parents and children.

Contact people for media inquiries:

Patrick Godana (                       073 233 4560

Mbuyiselo Botha (               082 518 1177

Wessel van den Berg (               082 686 7425

Carol Bower                                                                             061 414 6889

Child Protection week is from 1 – 8 June 2014

Learn more about positive discipline from the Working Group on Positive Discipline:

Find out more about Sonke’s MenCare campaign and work on parenting issues here:

Coping with violence in a patriarchal world

Claire Martens
Claire Martens

By Claire Martens

I long for a time when the world will be a safe place for women. But with the way things are, it will never be in my lifetime. The stories just keep on coming. If it’s not 300 young girls kidnapped in Nigeria, it’s a 22-year-old American man seeking “retribution” for being rejected by women and killing 6 people in the process. The international response to both incidents has been different and, in many ways, unrelated, but that is a topic for another blog. Right now I want to speak about one outcome to the Elliot Rodger event which tells us something about the Nigerian kidnapping, almost as much as it does about the killing spree.

The media is inundated with articles about the motivations of Rodger, but for me the most interesting part was the start of the #yesallwomen campaign. While the two incidents, due to their horrific nature and violence, demonstrate the harshest terms of women’s enslavement under the worst conditions, the hashtag #yesallwomen demonstrates the prolific and invasive nature of patriarchy and its evil cousin, misogyny. While I think it may be a little tenuous to believe that misogyny leads to murder, there is a certain level of violence inherent in patriarchy that we cannot ignore.

What the kidnappings and killings tell us is that some men believe that they deserve a woman’s attentions, they have an entitlement to a wife and to sex and whatever else women are expected to give them. Some men may believe that women are expendable, that their lives carry no value. Always, women are only people in relation to men. What #yesallwomen shows is that an undercurrent of violence, fear and intimidation exists in many women’s lives, no matter where they live and what they look like.

#yesallwomen started soon after the Elliot Rodger event. Through it, women are attempting to expose the pervasive nature of patriarchy and misogyny. Their tweets demonstrate the trends in the fear they carry on their shoulders, in the harassment they face every day at the hands of men, in the names they are called and the abuse they endure.

The #yesallwomen campaign is a continuation of many similar protests and campaigns, such as #everydaysexism, so it is not necessarily unique in its approach, but it also came at an odd time for me. I was visiting my doctor recently with a complaint of stomach aches. She asked about my anxiety levels, explaining that many women who visit her are suffering from a kind of general and prolonged stress which they find difficult to deal with. She asked me about my history, my friends and my family. She asked if something had happened to me to make me feel anxious.

Well, no, and also yes. I too live in South Africa, in a state of fear, and even if nothing as horrific as rape has happened to me, it does not mean that I cannot acknowledge the pain it causes. It doesn’t mean that my experiences as a women are insignificant and that I am not affected by the environment I live in. In fact, it was in becoming a feminist that my world was opened to the reality of the situation of women and of myself – an awakening that was both crippling and liberating.

I know enough about the lives that women lead, the statistics on rape and sexual abuse, the incidences of domestic abuse, and the children who are raped, to know that we live in a sick society. I also think that even though I am merely experiencing it second-hand, doesn’t mean that I don’t feel a general low level of anxiety, all day, every day. It’s always there, this fear, and it’s not baseless or silly, but derived from our everyday experiences, the thoughts we have, the stories we hear, the people who are affected.

I was shocked to read about Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in women in South Africa, that our levels are so high that they are practically at the level of warzones. What kind of world do we live in where a vast percentage of women show symptoms of PTSD, even though the country itself is at peace?

What is unbearable for me is the knowledge that this is not one, or ten, or even one hundred men who are raping or abusing women, but thousands. That is the nature of patriarchy. Men do not have to be evil or stupid or crazy to be part of it, as long as the culture permits them to practice patriarchy. In a blog posted on the Guardian website, Jessica Valenti writes the following:

The truth is that there is no such thing as a lone misogynist – they are created by our culture, and by communities that tells them that their hatred is both commonplace and justified. So when we say that these things are unstoppable, what we are really saying is that we’re unwilling to do the work to stop them. Violence against women does not have to be inevitable, but it is almost always foreseeable: what matters is what we do about it.

So how can we cope with the violent nature of our society; not just to overcome the abuse of women and children, but to stop all forms of violence directed at all citizens of this country? My doctor said something interesting which I want to share with you in the same form of analogy she used.

She described how, when she first started working at her new practice, she found her colleagues disrespectful. She wasn’t sure what to do about it but she decided to work really hard, stay long hours, and be really good at her job in order to earn their respect through her actions. But after months of doing so, she wasn’t any closer to getting their respect. That was when she realised that she permitted the disrespect in the first place.

How people treat us is not really about who we are, but who they are and the kind of society they function in. If we want to stop violence and abuse, we should not allow it to be permitted. I am not sure how to do this, how to make our worlds safer, but I think we may start with the little things like rape jokes, belittlement, catcalling and the rest. No one should ever feel powerless. Men should never feel entitled, or that we are ornaments for their own lives.

There are violent individuals who commit horrendous crimes, and we may feel unable to do anything about them, but we can try to change the manifestations of patriarchy, and not necessarily ourselves, so that society can stop breeding the types of people who commit crimes against women. We cannot compromise, the results are fatal.

If you want to read some various takes on the #yesallwomen campaign, the following are a few links I found interesting:

Cine-Ndaba needs your support to make a documentary about gender-based violence

Cine-Ndaba Pamplet

The Cine-Ndaba team are a group of Fulbright alumni who have come to a point of reckoning with the levels of gender related violence in South Africa. We feel that the dialogue around this issue is often governed by those who are not most proximate to the issue. Cine-Ndaba was conceived out of the desire to bring this conversation closer to women who have been directly impacted, placing the tools of narration in their hands. Through workshopping processes on basic filmmaking and storytelling, we will be collaborating with a group of women who have experienced violence. Rather than highlighting a narrative of victimhood, our aim is to elevate the resilience that allows people to create, to catalyze dialogue, and to envision modes of advocacy that may begin to shift the landscape. A vital aspect of Cine-Ndaba is the inclusion of non-linear modes of storytelling, such as puppetry and poetry. Our partners are The Saartjie Baartman Centre and SWEAT, two organizations who we share a vision with in terms of the impact that art making and creativity can have both for survivors of trauma, and as an educational and advocacy tool.
We have a number of costs that have not been covered by our grant that we urgently need to raise funds for. By contributing to our Thunda Fund campaign (, or donating goods, we will be able to see the effective realization of Cine-Ndaba. Some of the costs we still need to cover include:
  • Catering for our workshops
  • Small handhelds HD video cameras for the participants to use
  • Post production costs
  • Childcare for the women while they are at the workshops and/or filming
  • Office costs
  • Props and supplies for the workshops
Our Thunda Fund campaign closes on the 17th of April. If we do not reach our first milestone, we will not receive any of the money we have raised to date. Please help us get there, either through financial contribution or spreading the word to relevant parties who may be able to help.
Thank you so much for your time!
With love,
The Cine-Ndaba Team
Watch the video here:


Corrective rape – religion and masculinity at the expense of lesbian women

By Olivia Bliss

The high rates of corrective rape (lesbians raped to ‘correct’ them of their homosexuality) in South Africa have recently caught the attention of the international media. Last year, Clare Carter, an American journalist travelled to South Africa to meet victims of corrective rape and published an article for the New York Times and an award-winning film and photography project detailing her experiences. The stories Carter tells are nothing short of horrific. Most of the attacks that the victims recount were accompanied by further acts of extreme violence; one woman, Noxolo Nogwaza, had her eyes pulled out. Many were killed after being raped. The photographs of survivors depict scarred and stoical women.

The phenomenon of corrective rape is not a new one. Nor is it exclusive to South Africa: cases have been reported in countries as diverse as Thailand and Ecuador. But, as Carter points out, corrective rape is on the rise. South Africa’s already high rates of gender-based violence and the influence of fundamental Christianity combine to create a uniquely ripe culture for corrective rape. Another theory is that corrective rape culture in South Africa is a response to emasculation, an ‘extreme performance of masculinity by men who feel the need to reassert their masculinity when it is called into question’ by unemployment and female emancipation. But perhaps most pernicious is the simple, but widely held belief of many that homosexuality is just not African. Whatever the cause of the hostility, many parts of South Africa are dangerous for lesbians who wish to live openly.

But the homophobia that is apparently felt by many South Africans is curiously out of sync with the legislative framework governing LGBTI rights. The South African Constitution is one of the most progressive in the world: co-authored by radical lawyers including Nelson Mandela and Albie Sachs, it was the first of its kind to expressly prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. In the case of Louw, the Women’s Legal Centre fought to ensure that the assault of a lesbian woman would be considered unfair discrimination on the grounds of gender and sexual orientation in addition to being a crime. South Africa was also one of the first countries to legalize same-sex marriage following the case of Fourie v Minister of Home Affairs in 2005. So-called liberal countries such as the United Kingdom have only just caught up: gay marriage was legalized there as late as last year, and the first ceremonies will not take place until mid-2014.

Many gay women are beneficiaries of the progressive stance taken by the South African state in this respect. Since 2006 (when Parliament amended the Marriage Act to conform to the ruling in Fourie) over 3000 same-sex weddings have taken place. Last week at Beaulah, a popular gay bar in Cape Town, I asked young, predominantly white women about their experiences as lesbians in South Africa. Many told me that they felt comfortable telling their parents about their sexuality and about their relationships with other women, and that in Cape Town at least, they were able to walk down the street holding hands with their girlfriends. However, most were also aware that their lifestyles would not be possible in other rural and/or deprived parts of South Africa.

It would be wrong to reduce the complexity of the South African lesbian experience by dividing it into white and black, rich and poor. But as Clare Carter’s article shows, life for gay women in rural South Africa and in the townships (where eighty per cent of the country’s population reside) is dramatically different to the lives of the women I spoke to in Beaulah. The corrective rapes that Carter writes about took place without exception in these places, and all of the women in her photographs are black. The traditional Zulu monarch, whose people account for roughly one-fifth of South Africa’s population has reiterated his belief that homosexuality is morally wrong. At a recent black lesbian poetry reading hosted by Free Gender, an organization dedicated to securing LGBTI rights, women from Khayelitsha (the third largest township in South Africa) talked of the extreme joy but also of the deep pain present in their lives. A dominant theme in Rivers of Life, the excellent, published collection of the women’s poetry, is a refusal to be silenced.

The troubling increase in rates of corrective rape in South Africa once again raises difficult questions about the value of the Constitution, or more precisely, its value to gay women living outside of South Africa’s wealthy metropolises. Justice Edwin Cameron, the Constitutional Court judge and gay rights activist has conceded that ‘Constitutional equality and legal protection are not enough’ but also added that ‘they are an indispensable beginning’. In last month’s edition of the Big Issue, he wrote that ‘gay and lesbian youngsters from the rural areas…all not only accept the legitimacy of the values the Constitution sets out – they claim them loudly for themselves.’ But Funeka Soldaat, who established Free Gender after being correctively raped herself, is scathing of the so-called rights granted to lesbians by the Constitution. Soldaat has said that ‘the Constitution is there but it doesn’t mean anything to anyone. Even if you know how the Constitution works, you don’t know how to use it to protect yourself.’

Soldaat’s despair is understandable. Free Gender recently worked in collaboration with the Women’s Legal Centre to secure the conviction of Andile Ngcoza for correctively raping Millicent Gaika, a black woman from Gugulethu. Harrowing photographs of Gaika, taken just after her attack show a woman severely bruised and beaten. Outside of Wynberg court, Soldaat told reporters that Gaika had suffered deep psychological trauma and had attempted suicide as a result of the rape.

Soldaat has also (rightly) pointed out the way that poverty restricts access to legal remedies against injustice. Her contention that the Constitution is meaningless for many black and impoverished South African lesbians seems difficult to deny at times. But two things ought to be remembered. Firstly, Biblical inspired venom against homosexuals from the mouths of religious leaders serves to actively negate the good work of the Constitution, and the tolerant, progressive attitudes that its precedents seek to usher in. In a 2011 report on corrective rape in South Africa by Human Rights Watch, organized religion was identified as one of the root causes of corrective rape, and the church as one of the most important spaces in which ‘social attitudes and ethical responses form’ for South Africans, and where ‘significant discrimination occurs’. In the townships especially, researchers found that ‘pastors and other church leaders wield immense influence on moral and social matters, influence that can directly impact lesbian members of the congregation, often in a negative way’. Elsewhere in the report, victims recount incidents of homophobia based on Christian precepts. Just before being correctively raped, one woman in Johannesburg was told that ‘this thing [homosexuality] doesn’t make sense. This is a sin, God doesn’t like this’. Another victim recalls men shouting out to her, ‘God didn’t make women and women, he made Adam and Eve’.

Religious opposition to homosexuality is not limited by geography or by class. In England too, Catholic priests in expensive parts of London frequently voice their distaste towards homosexuality and their objections to gay marriage legislation. Nor should it be forgotten that religion offers hope to millions worldwide or that religious leaders very often preach love and acceptance. But anti-gay religious leaders in South Africa ought to remember the context of their words. Here, it is estimated that a woman is raped every 15 seconds, and incidents of corrective rape are increasing year on year. The authors of the Human Rights Watch report go as far as to recommend state action to address situations where the actions of private persons, such as pastors, risk creating violations of the rights of others.

Finally, before dismissing the Constitution, critics should consider very recent events in other African countries. Just last week, an Islamic court in Nigeria subjected a man to 20 lashes for engaging in homosexual activities. In Uganda, new laws are being contemplated which would allow for life-sentences to be passed on those convicted of committing homosexual acts. Social attitudes are taking a long time to catch up with progressive legislation in South Africa. This is lamentable, but the prospect of a government and judiciary condoning hatred and violence towards gay men and women must be a far worse reality.

Elections Analysis: The Economic Freedom Fighters

Sanja Bornman

By Sanja Bornman 

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EEF) was officially founded on 17 August 2013. Even in the run-up to its registration with the IEC, barely a day has gone by without some mention of the new-comer political party or its “commander in chief” and enfant terrible of South Africans politics, Julius Malema, in the press. There is plenty of controversy and red berets to go around, and love ‘em or hate ‘em, the EFF has certainly made a splash.

But, all knee-jerk reactions to the EFF aside, is this a party that you should vote for if you are a woman, and you value your rights? Is this a party that believes in women’s equality? What are its plans for making women’s equality a lived reality in South Africa, and are those plans any good? Most importantly, is this a party that walks the women’s rights talk?

1.       What is the EEF?

The EFF describes itself as:

… a radical and militant economic emancipation movement that brings together revolutionary, fearless, radical, and militant activists, workers’ movements, nongovernmental organisations, community-based organisations and lobby groups under the umbrella of pursuing the struggle for economic emancipation.”

With a “Commander in Chief”, a “Central Command Team” and members referred to as “fighters”, this party does a lot of fighting talk. Its manifesto and polices, and the speeches of its leaders contain a substantial amount of militaristic jargon. In a recent article, Siphokazi Magadla posits that the EFF heralds the “return of the warrior citizen”, which in turn means that the EFF “continues to privilege military power as signalling ‘real’ transformative power.”

An article in the City Press briefly described the way the EFF’s militarism is playing out in its recent physical presence at voter registration stations. There was marching, military boots, and in some cases, guns – although the latter is not “nationally sanctioned”.

A common position among feminists is that militarism is not only bad for women, but bad for everyone. Prominent academic and feminist, Cynthia Enloe, has long grappled with militarism and has written several books on the matter examining the global efforts of feminist groups to contest militarization.  In fact, the theme of the annual Sixteen Days of Activism Campaign in 2013 is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!” One of this year’s key campaign focuses is violence perpetrated by state actors, or state actors who use the threat or act of violence to maintain or attain power.

Confusingly, the EFF leadership has stated that the EFF is “militant, but not militaristic.” Suffice to say that perhaps the extent of the difference between the two, in the case of the EFF, is difficult to assess at this nascent stage of the party.

2.       Gender parity in leadership structures

While having 50% women in party leadership by no means guarantees a party that is responsive to women’s issues, nor a party that actively seeks gender equality in any meaningful way, the Constitution calls for positive action to attain gender equality throughout society. It follows that substantive gender equality must also be attained in political decision-making structures – a notion that would, regardless of personal opinions, be supported by domestic legislation, as well as South Africa’s international law obligations.

The EFF leadership structure, or rather, its “Central Command Team”, consists of 20 individuals. Of the 20 national leaders, only five are women.

On the bright side (kinda), the women leaders are mostly leading in portfolios that are traditionally the ambit of men. Mandisa Makhesini, heads up the Gender portfolio. Tebogo Mokwele heads up Land and Agrarian Reform, Natasha Louw is responsible for Mining and Mineral Resources, while Leigh-Ann Mathys looks after Finance, Fundraising and Resource Management, and Pumza Ntobonuwana heads up Justice.

At a provincial level, the “command team” doesn’t look much better, with only 2 out of 18 leaders being women.

This is pretty poor performance in the category of gender parity. It indirectly sends the message that the EFF does not consider gender parity to be particularly important, or useful, regardless of what our laws might say.

3.       The women’s rights “talk” – the EFF manifesto and policies

The EFF’s stated Aims and Objectives include, but are not limited to:

To establish and sustain a society that cherishes revolutionary cultural values and to create conditions for total political and economic emancipation, prosperity and equitable distribution of wealth of the nation.

  • To oppose resolutely, tribalism, regionalism, religious and cultural intolerance.

  • To oppose oppression of women and the oppression of all other gendered persons (sic)

  • To oppose patriarchy, sexism, and homophobia and any cultural or religious practices that promotes the oppression of anyone, women in particular.”

The aims and objectives are brilliant from a gender rights point of view and get the EFF off to a great start in the policy category. One cannot be entirely sure what is meant by “gendered” persons, because we are all gendered, which might lead one to question the EFF’s understanding of the term. Semantics aside though, one gets the idea, and the idea is great one.

Next up is the EFF Manifesto, which expressly recognises a past in which South Africa “discriminated and oppressed the black majority. It discriminated and oppressed women (sic).”  It contains a separate clause dealing with what the EFF refers to as the “Gender and Sexuality Question.” This clause states the following:

“The EFF is against the oppression of anyone based on their gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation, meaning that we are against patriarchy, sexism, and homophobia in all of its manifestations. We are also against tribalism and religious and cultural intolerance. We oppose any cultural or religious practices that promote the oppression of anyone, especially groups that have been historically oppressed by such practices.

The EFF would strive to realise women’s liberation, through a variety of interventions, from education against patriarchy and sexism, to legislation and the close monitoring of the implementation of the same in order to realise women’s empowerment in society, the family and the workplace. The EFF believes that gender-based violence and related antisocial activities are reinforced and even sustained by the deplorable conditions of our people, therefore a key to female emancipation is the emancipation of all. The EFF will emphasise transforming the lives of our people in the ghettos from one of generalised structural violence as a mechanism to end all violence, including violence against women.”

It is wonderfully promising to see the express denunciation not only the oppression of women, but the oppression of all persons on the basis of their gender expression and sexual orientation. It is also encouraging to see a commitment to societal education as a means of dismantling the patriarchy, and the monitoring and evaluation of legislation aimed at achieving equality.

However, a closer look reveals some confusing thinking on the part of the EFF. At first the EFF appears to recognise the need for dismantling the patriarchy, but in the same breath it suggests that ongoing violence against women, sexual minorities and gender non-conforming persons, is due simply to poverty. This reveals the problematic, yet core belief of the EFF: that economic empowerment of all will automatically lead to gender equality and the eradication of patriarchy. Certainly, the economic dependence of women on men reduces their ability to leave violent relationships. However, violence against women happens across all social groups and economic empowerment is not in itself sufficient to eradicate violence.

This vastly over-simplified position is borne out in its actual policy documents, which do not contain any trace of its promised “variety of interventions” to achieve equality specifically for women. As such, the promise of gender equality hovers at the aspiration level, without any concrete policies to ensure delivery.

The EFF has policies in the following areas:

  • Land: where the key approach is expropriation of land without compensation for equitable redistribution.
  • Nationalisation: which would entail the nationalisation of mines, banks and other strategic sectors of the economy, to enable the transfer of wealth from those who currently own it to the people as a whole.
  • State capacity: where state capacity is built up to the extent that the tender process, which is vulnerable to corruption, can be abolished.
  • Housing, health, education and sanitation: where the approach is free primary and secondary education; building massive capacity in state health care and setting up a state pharmaceutical company; improving the quality and size of low-cost state housing through a state housing construction company; and the universal provision of sanitation and abolishment of the bucket system.
  • Industrial development for jobs: where massive protected industrial development will create millions of sustainable jobs, including the introduction of minimum wages in order to close the wage gap between the rich and the poor
  • African Economy: where State-owned enterprises should heavily invest in the infrastructure and industrial development of the African continent
  • Accountable government: which demand that all political parties should be obliged by law to publicly disclose their sources of funds in order to avoid political coup d’états financed by greedy multinational corporations and criminal associations that seek to have access to South Africa’s resources

In all seven of these polices, the words “women”, “woman” or “girl” do not appear once. The EFF polices contain no recognition of the fact that women bear the brunt of poverty in South Africa, and that they are more likely than men to drop out of school in order to care for old or sick family members. The EFF fails to recognise that more women than men are landlessness, and that women’s access to land often depends on men.  There is no recognition of the fact that women are under-represented in the industrial workforce, and that job creation through industrial development would have to entail specific plans removing structural barriers to the inclusion women. The EFF fails to prioritise sexual and reproductive health rights for women, and perhaps most conspicuous by their absence are policies on dealing effectively with our inordinately high levels of violence against women.

In its Women’s Month message, the EFF states that its struggle for land expropriation without compensation and nationalization of mineral resources “centralizes women as beneficiaries”. But where is the evidence in its policies that this is so?

Consequently, despite the fact that the EFF claims to prioritise the eradication of women’s inequality, there is no evidence of how this will be done in its policies. In fact, despite the promising aspects of its Manifesto, its policies are entirely gender-blind, and fail to prioritise women in any way.

4.       The women’s rights “walk” – EFF leadership track record and known associates

Even if one were to give the EFF’s policies and women’s rights “talk” the benefit of the doubt, it is in this category where the EFF falls truly flat.

Firstly, the Commander in Chief’s public positions on violence against women have been egregious enough to land him in court. On 22 January 2009 Julius Malema (who was the ANC Youth League president at the time) addressed 150 Cape Peninsula University of Technology students. He spoke about the woman who had laid rape charges against Jacob Zuma, and said, “(t)hose who had a nice time will wait until the sun comes out, request breakfast and ask for taxi money. In the morning, that lady requested breakfast and taxi money.”

Sonke Gender Justice took Malema to the Equality Court for hate speech in February 2009. His approach to the proceedings, and his public statements throughout, betrayed his lack of understanding of the damaging rape myths his statement was perpetuating. He showed a lack of respect for survivors of sexual violence, and it was clear he did not take the matter seriously. Malema failed to appear personally at the first court date, and in May 2009 Malema told the press that he was entirely unaware of the court case against him, and that he “(didn’t) have time for (the case)”. He tried repeatedly to have the case dismissed. On 15 March 2010, the court found Malema guilty of hate speech and harassment. He was ordered to make an unconditional public apology within two weeks and to pay R50 000 to a centre for abused women within one month. Malema tried to appeal the ruling, but his attorneys failed to file the appeal on time. Only then, 15 months after the ruling, did Malema finally comply with the court order, and apologise to “all women” for his comments. Malema later said Sonke Gender Justice were “mickey mouses”, and that he would not pay the fine “on principle”. It is hard to believe, in the circumstances, that his apology signified any real contrition on his part.

It is also clear that Malema learned nothing from this experience, and that his understanding of gender-based violence, rape, and rape myths, has not improved over time. A City Press report quoted Malema on rape as recently as 13 October 2013. He told journalists, “(t)hough crime is largely caused by unemployment, poverty and inequality, rape is caused by uncontrollable libido.” This is a ridiculous and profoundly ignorant statement about why rape happens. The statement only serves to perpetuate gender stereotypes and rape myths, by implying that men sometimes just have “uncontrollable” impulses. Malema clearly does not understand that rape is about power.

The EFF leader also does not seem to have much respect for his female political opponents. After refusing to debate Lindiwe Mazibuko, the parliamentary speaker of the DA, he told the press, “I am not going to use our profile to profile her. She is a tea girl for the madam – she must stay there in the kitchen.” During a 2009 fight between him and the “madam” herself, Helen Zille accused Malema of behaving like an immature boy who had not yet entered manhood. His response was that Zille, as a woman, had no right to “speak on men’s issues”. Now, we have all come to expect the racial tone of the exchanges between the DA and Malema, but there is sexism there too. What exactly are “men’s issues” that women have no right to speak of? Is a woman’s place always “in the kitchen”? Most importantly, what does the sexism in Malema’s political retorts suggest about his values as a leader, and in turn, those of his party?

As for the EFF’s known associates and supporters, the picture is bleak. First there is notorious businessman Kenny Kunene. Kunene joined the EFF leadership soon after its formation, and was widely pictured sitting next to Malema in press conferences, wearing a red beret.

Feminists have often slammed Kunene for his public comments, and with good reason. In an article in the Mail & Guardian Faranaaz Parker has suggested that Kunene’s “comments on women and sex are a disturbing trivialisation of sexual violence in a country where rape is a daily occurrence.” Pumla Gqola echoed this view in The City Press. Known as the “Sushi King”, for notoriously eating sushi off the half-naked bodies of women in his Cape Town club ZAR, Kunene blithely tweeted earlier this year that he been “victim of gang rape and loved it”. When taken on by the DA’s Mmusi Mmaimane, he dragged Mmaimane’s wife into the conversation by telling Mmaimane to “focus on ****ing ur wife b4 we do it 4u…  (sic).”  Kunene also publically admitted during a radio interview on Metro FM that while he was a high school English teacher, he had sexual relationships with some of his teenage pupils. He later said in a television interview that “women are easy”.

Given Kunene’s objectification of women, and his deeply sexist views on women, sex and sexual violence, one would not have expected the EFF allow him a leadership position. After all, this is a party with the stated objectives of opposing patriarchy and the oppression of women. Luckily, Kunene resigned from the party’s leadership in August. But then, tellingly, the EFF’s send-off of Kunene could not have been more flattering, and it is clear that the EFF intends to sustain its ties with Kunene. The party issued a statement saying:

“The Central Command Team found him a very great person to work with, and so did many in the rank and file. We were particularly impressed by his charisma, fearlessness, and wisdom to dissect complex challenges… Economic Freedom Fighters will always be welcome to working with him on project (sic)”

It is also extremely hard to believe that the EFF truly opposes homophobia and discrimination on the basis of gender, given its open support for Zimbabwe’s Zanu PF, led by Robert Mugabe. Mugabe’s intolerance and hateful views on homosexuals and gender non-conformity are infamous. And yet, before the Zimbabwean elections earlier this year, the EFF called on all Zimbabweans to re-elect Robert Mugabe as their president. The EFF issued a full statement in this regard, and this statement was published in Zimbabwe’s The Herald, which is government owned.

Mugabe went on to win the election, and in his inaugural speech he “urged young people to ‘damn’ homosexuality in the same way his government does and not to offend nature by engaging in same-sex relationships, (which) destroys nations, apart from it being a filthy, filthy disease.” On this, the EFF has been remained conveniently silent.

5.       Conclusion

In the final analysis, the EFF is no different from your typical political party that makes promises ahead of elections, only to break them afterwards. There is no reasonable basis to believe that the EFF will be true to its paper commitments, which are in any event not brought to life in its policies.

There is no doubt that economic freedom is a part of the puzzle when it comes to gender equality. But is it by no means the whole puzzle. The EFF’s plan to attain gender equality, simply by making sure that everyone is economically well-off (without focussed interventions aimed at women), is vastly oversimplified and demonstrates a poor grasp of structural causes of women’s inequality.

Its policies are gender blind, there is no gender parity in its leadership (which has a terrible gender track record), and the party has forged alliances with well-known sexists and bigots.

The EFF is not a good political option for South African women.




Two senior party officials accused of involvement in gang rape 

Women’s Day not real until institutions change

Benedicta Van Minnen
Benedicta Van Minnen

By Benedicta Van Minnen

Womens Day, which has just passed, is not just another public holiday, giving the moneyed classes carte blanche to spend a day in the countryside or the mall, and for disadvantaged women a chance to put their feet up in honor of some ubiquitous national “day of rest”.

57 years ago on the 9 August 1956 in one of the largest demonstrations staged in this country’s history, thousands of women of all races marched to Pretoria’s Union Buildings, to present a petition against the carrying of passes by black women. This march against the pass laws was organized by the Federation of South African Women  who challenged the idea that ‘a woman’s place is in the kitchen’, declaring it instead to be “everywhere”.

This was to be the start of a tradition of strong women’s voices being raised against efforts to silence them, and to “keep them in their place”. Voices like that of Helen Suzman, the anti-apartheid activist who would not be silenced by the government of the day despite being the sole liberal voice in Parliament for many years. Rhoda Kadalie, who has just written a powerful piece on efforts to create chaos in the Western Cape ahead of the 2014 elections, Patricia De Lille, who would not be silenced by the current government in exposing the arms deal, and of course, Helen Zille who exposed the murder of Steve Biko and who heads up the opposition, the Democratic Alliance. Let us also remember those strong women within the ANC, like Albertina Sisulu and Adelaide Tambo, who raised their voices against oppression and abuse, a voice which in recent years seems to have fallen silent in the face of overwhelming male patriarchy in government circles.

These are all women who have made their voices heard in this country and who refused to be silenced and to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. And yes, the last 20 years of parliamentary democracy have brought about many legislative changes aimed at improving the lives of women. I wish we could celebrate women’s day in the spirit of joy and moonbeams so beloved of Facebook postings and jolly pictures of women enjoying themselves on this historic day. But the truth is that we cannot.

South Africa is not a safe place for women; domestic violence, rape, and murder are every day events in many womens lives. Unemployment, poverty, substance abuse and exploitation are the realities in many communities, and family members that abuse women financially, emotionally and economically are the norm for many, many women.

Women like Anene Booysen get murdered every day across the country, small children such as the siblings from Ceres lie broken and mutilated in hospitals across the country, and elderly women are raped in rural villages by youths high on drugs and liquor.

Look at the Cape Flats mother who saw what drugs were doing to her son and to her family and desperately tried to get help to no avail. Eventually she was forced into a terrible act before people took notice. And she is not the only one. We all know women like her. Women who are trying to keep their families together in the face of terrible challenges and abuse and who cannot find succor from the very agencies and organizations meant to help and assist.

Everyday women get turned away from courts because they claim they are too busy to give the very assistance they are mandated to give, women face months of delays and postponements when requesting help in getting maintenance, shelters are full, thus not giving women a safe place to go to, yet in a particularly South African flavored irony, many are facing closure due to lack of funding. Police are uninterested and sheriffs could not be bothered to serve the summonses and interdicts that a lucky few women do manage to squeeze out of the system.

And it is not just this that threatens our hard won democratic rights.

The very government which has been instrumental in introducing many women friendly Acts, is systematically rolling back women’s gains in an attempt to gain votes from men in rural areas by removing the threat empowered women present to traditional structures: If the Traditional Courts Bill goes through Parliament it will silence the voices of women who will henceforth be represented by, wait for it, the men in their families and the presiding officer will be a male traditional leader! Given the high rate of abuse faced by women in rural settings, often from the men in their families, this will devastate the voices of rural women. This essentially negates constitutional rights which are guaranteed to all South Africans.

In essence, women are being sent back to the kitchen, and can no longer go “everywhere” as there are very clear attempts to develop spaces where women may not tread. This is not good enough, Women deserve more.

It is clear that it is only when women have successfully become part of the established structure of governance from schools, to courts, from police stations to government, as magistrates, as police, as politicians, as doctors and as strong community leaders, that women’s freedoms will be truly protected. Anything less than that and any gains will always be vulnerable to attempts to erode hard won rights in order to prop up increasingly centralized political elites who only view women voters as a means to an end, and who are, presumably, seen as happy with the current crumbs to salvage an increasingly patriarchal conscience.

It is only when we have truly women friendly state institutions that women can be truly free to go “everywhere” as dreamt of by those strong and brave women who would not be silenced 57 years ago.


How you can tell if someone is a real rape survivor

Jen Thorpe
Jen Thorpe

By Jen Thorpe

How should a woman behave to convince us that she was raped?

When she breaks down, is hysterical, is rabid, is broken, is ripped apart, is together, is calm, is cold, is hyper sexual, never wants to have sex again, is manic, is depressed, is this right?

Should she report and save others, report and wait for years, report and hope for the best in a criminal justice system that has a roughly 6% chance of convicting her rapist, report and be laughed at by police, report and have hurried rushed meetings with her prosecutor, report and wish that she didn’t have to wait in court all day thirsty and starving because she’s poor and can’t bring her own food in or afford food from government vending machines, report and possibly have no access to a working toilet whilst she waits hands clenched to see her rapist in a court room, report and have to see him say he did nothing, report and see him get off, report and have him lay a civil charge of slander against her, report and get supported by NGO representatives holding her hand and reminding her that she was right to do this – that she is strong, report and get justice, report and hear that his sentence has been reduced in a higher court, report and hear that he gets life, report and live in fear of retaliation? Which of these are right?

Should she not report and stay home fearful that it could happen again because he’s still out there or in her home, not report stay home and have others ask her why she didn’t, have others question whether this means she wasn’t sure or that he didn’t do it, not report and wonder whether she should have, not report and go to work everyday as if nothing happened until she feels on the precipice of death, not report and get better and go for counselling and heal, not report and spend time reading websites about others who did or didn’t report and feeling sympathy or empathy or nothing for them, not report and keep quiet about it, not report and scream from the rooftops, not report and become an activist, not report and never say anything about it again? Which of these are right?

Should she defend others decisions, encourage them to report, discourage them from reporting, bombard herself with stats that she has become a part of, join hands with others, form groups, be in solidarity, be in silence? Which of these are right?

Should she seek support from her colleagues and family members or keep quiet because rape is a personal matter and shouldn’t be brought up at work or at christmas? Which of these are right?

When she tells them should she feel shameful, or brave, or afraid, or disgusted, or dirty, or liberated, or free, or light, or tainted? Which of these are right?

What should she do? What do we expect of her? What ideas do we draw on? What myths do we support? What would we do? Do we know? Are we right in having any expectations at all? 

Rape contradictions

Benedicta Van Minnen
Benedicta Van Minnen

By Benedicta Van Minnen

The recent outcry over so-called “rape jokes” posted on social media by two employees of FHM have caused an outcry – and rightly so. In a country with some of the highest statistics for rape and abuse of women and children in the world, such comments are completely despicable and unacceptable.

However other recent comments have been reported in the media attributed to a Magistrate in the Krugersdorp made when sentencing a convicted rapist to prison should also raise concern.

During the sentencing, the Magistrate allegedly stated:

“In prison you can rape prisoners if you feel like it; at least you won’t be around little children”.

This comment however has seemingly not caused an outcry amongst the public – and that is exactly the problem with how South African views the issue of rape.

In a country where rape happens to men, women and children, it would appear that the vileness of the act is determined by the social position of the victim, rather than the crime. This is supported by the fact that rape is a crime about power relations and South Africa is a society with substantial power contradictions. Statements like this magistrate’s make it seem almost as if the act itself is seen as the deserved fate of a person who is perceived as being “outside” of society. The comments also seem to condone the rape of prisoners by other prisoners as being acceptable within a prison environment – thereby giving credence to the argument that the outcasts of society are seen as fair prey, and seemingly deserving of their fate. This links to the issue of “corrective rape” so recently highlighted by the assault and murder of Duduzile Zozo,  a lesbian in Thokoza, which unfortunately is only one of many such assaults that happen regularly to lesbians in this country. Rape should not be seen as the punishment for perceived outsiders.

Thus for an Officer of the Court to make such remarks to someone about what he can be free to do in prison is totally unacceptable. Not only does it highlight the very real issue of sexual assault and rape happening within the prison system, but it goes some way to giving licence to arguments that the State is not able to keep people safe in prison form such attacks – which is one of the arguments being used by the defence team of Shrein Devani to avoid extradition to South Africa for the alleged murder of his wife!

What kind of message is this to send out? South Africa has very high rates of interpersonal violence and assault, and instead of rape being condemned by society as a whole, it is almost seen as part of common culture and behaviour and only condemned in certain circumstances. The uneven reporting of the two incidents, and the lack of comment on the remarks of the magistrate, underlines exactly this problem and may well be one of the factors that contribute to our high levels of interpersonal assault where victims and the level of their victimhood is judged by their social position rather than the wholesale condemnation of the act of the attacker.

Kenny Kunene’s comments on rape require investigation

Jen Thorpe
Jen Thorpe

By Jen Thorpe

NUMBER 1 – Transactional sex is not only really uncool, it is also really dangerous

Kenny Kunene went on Noleen last week with five of his fifteen girlfriends (who he only likes to be under the age of 24). Multiple concurrent partners are, as we all should know by now (yet a certain Simply Red song echoes), very risky in terms of the transmission of sexually transmitted infection and HIV. HIV tests as we know must take place regularly, which KK and crew say they do, but as we also know HIV has a window period where your blood does not reflect anti-bodies. Thus whilst KK sleeps with 15 people, and they sleep with 15 people, and they sleep with 15 people, a lot of sexual juices are being paid forwards. Because women’s vaginas have a larger surface area for exposure to the virus than male penises (especially very tiny ones) they are more likely to contract the virus. This is just plain stupid sexual behaviour in a country with such high HIV infection rates. I understand that, as adults consenting to sex, we make choices about whether we will practice it safely, but as far as I am ­concerned unsafe sex with multiple partners is not safe or sexy.

Why is this sex transactional? Transactional sex is defined as ‘sex with a partner which was primarily motivated by material gain, defined as provision of food, cosmetics, clothes, transportation, items for children or family, school fees, somewhere to sleep, or cash.’ It seems clear from the recent media coverage of the situation that these women receive numerous financial and economic rewards for being part of the group. In addition, those he favours are able to recruit others into the group. He has stuff, they don’t. It’s unequal for all the reasons that Lizl Morden spells out here. The emphasis on collecting women as objects of his desire clearly indicates that his masculinity is founded on problematic ideas of sexuality where men consume women, and where male virility and sexual prowess at the expense of narratives on women’s pleasure, and at the expense of women’s health. It means that his masculinity is only really as good as the number of women he can sleep with.

NUMBER 2 – Threatening someone’s wife with gang rape ignores the experience of rape survivors, and incites violence. Once again I am reminded, as I was with Durex’s cock up two years ago, that violence against women remains a joke to most South Africans, and that there is little understanding of the connection of social messages that sanction this violence (eg invite men to use their penises as a weapon) to the violence itself. Threatening someone with gang rape incites violence. Acting as if this is no big deal promotes myths that rape is not a serious crime. Something that I said back then sadly still applies:

Norms and myths sustain our social identities. They help us understand the expected interactions between ourselves and others. Norms are themselves sustained by our actions. It is a self-perpetuating cycle. Norms that say men’s most important attribute is their penis, and that a woman better celebrate that by taking what she can get, are part of rape culture, which I argue is bad for everyone.

South Africa has an incredibly powerful rape culture. This culture is sustained by many things: low conviction rates for perpetrators, an unpleasant criminal justice system that alienates survivors and reduces reporting, a history of South African violence, and inequality among the sexes. It is also sustained by our laughter at jokes that condone violence against women. Rape is not funny.

NUMBER 3 – Describing his own consensual sex fest as rape further illustrates his ignorance, and diminishes the experience of rape survivors

In one swift move his tweet undermines gang rape survivors trauma, pain and suffereing, and tries to suggest that they should have enjoyed it whilst they could. Saying you get ‘gang raped’ all the time and enjoy it reinforces problematic myths about rape that say that it is enjoyable for the victim. In addition, it ignores that a lack of consent is key in rape, and that a consensual sexual situation is not rape. According to Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust’s website, myths about rape have powerful negative effects for survivors that affect their healing and increase prejudice against them. In other words, the promotion of social norms that encourage violence increase the likelihood that a survivor will suffer secondary trauma and will experience rape trauma syndrome.

NUMBER 4 – Sex with minors under the age of 16 is statutory rape, and a crime under Sexual Offences Act 32 0f 2007

On Phat Joe’s show last week, Kenny Kunene admitted to sleeping with some of his students whilst he was an English teacher. He admitted that some of these students may have been under the age of 16. Section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act states that any person (A) who commits an act of sexual penetration with a child (B) is, despite the consent of B to the commission of such act, guilty of the offence of having committed an act of consensual sexual penetration with a child. This is commonly known as statutory rape. Section 16 states that any person (A) who commits an act of sexual violation with a child (B) is, despite the consent of B to the commission of such act, guilty of the offence of having committed an act of consensual sexual violation with a child. This is commonly known as statutory sexual assault. Thus, regardless of the fact that a child agrees to the sexual activity, the law does not recognise their ability to consent, and therefore a crime is committed. In addition, all sexual activity without consent is rape.


Kenny Kunene has admitted to being a statutory rapist, and has threatened violence against another woman. Claims of statutory rape should be investigated by the SAPS.

In addition, he should make a full apology, and should be required to make a substantial donation to an NGO working with rape survivors.

Then I think it’s best if he stops talking. For good.