Women in PAC Discussing GBV

PAC Woman
Woman in PAC Discussing GBV

We, the women of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, are revolting and uniting to assert our rightful place as daughters of the soil, and leaders, in our communities and country. We revolt against our bodies being used as a playground for violence and war. We claim our right to  speak and raise our voices. We have fought and  earned the right to be human. We have done the work to interpret our understanding of human rights. In our revolt we are making visible the fact that gender based violence is no longer a private issue. The violence we experience is so potently public, that eight month pregnant women are viciously murdered and found hanging on trees in the public sphere.
As African women, we experience violence, or the threat of violence, as a tool aimed at controlling us, our behavior and our bodies. We are targets for rape, domestic abuse, sexual assault and murder. We revolt and unite because we will no longer be treated like trespassers in our homes and communities. The fear in our homes, work places, public spaces and streets is palpable. No African woman or girl is safe in South Africa. Gender-based violence (GBV) has become a gruesome theatre played out on the bodies of girls as young as three weeks old  and elderly women  pensioners in their seventies and above.
We insist that Gender Based Violence, and the continued exploitation of women is a tool for cheap labor. This is a structured problem. It is the outcome and legacy of a bloody and violent history of imperialism, colonialism, patriarchy and other forms of oppression all embedded in capitalism. The white ruling class, with minority sections of  black males, has continued to use its power through its control of the means of production. They have maintained this control, sanctioned by a government that is preoccupied with cosmetic changes, with no ambition or intention of dealing with the core and fundamental antagonisms that breed violence. This altar of power, within an exploitative, inequitable, and unjust society, is a ruthless dynamic, that manifests through toxic masculinity, economic dependence on men, cultural dogma, and the emotional and physical humiliation of women.
Despite the first democratic election in 1994, we are burdened with a state that has perpetuated conditions where we live as conquered modern day slaves, in a racist system which has enabled violence in these hell-holes we know as townships/ squalor and rural spaces. These irreconcilable concentration camps are breeding grounds for the exploitation and oppression of African women’s bodies.  We live within communities that protect perpetrators as a key aspect of how culture still feeds impunity for these acts. Through negative cultural norms and ‘supposed cultural practices’ violence is embraced, unpunished and contributes to stripping away the recognition and affirmation of women’s human dignity. We are not safe. Our homes have become weaponized against us, while communities turn a blind eye to the acts of violence on women’s bodies.
Violence against women has become so endemic, normalized and even celebrated. This violence is promoting behaviour among young boys and men, to imitate at a young age high levels of aggression at home, schools, and public spaces. This endorses ideas of dominance at a young age among men. It creates a violent culture where permission is given to train the boy child in relation to the girl child to be indifferent to this violence.
We have a government that celebrates ideological masculinity. This has given some men permission to believe that women’s empowerment has left them victimised and discriminated against. Ideological masculinity promotes a return to male supremacy. Women experience it when turned away from police stations that refuse to take their statements. Women face harsh victimisation when judges and magistrates mete out light sentences against gender based violent crimes. The result of this ideological masculinity is a government that has failed to deliver and respond to the call of Gender Equality.
This government has not been diligent when it comes to equality. It has dilly dallied on the need for equality between men and women as a positive affirmation of humanity. Instead, women live with broken promises and failed equality projects, masqueraded as women empowerment. Only a few women excess these projects under the guise of so-called liberation of women. This is petty hand-out empowerment that subjects women to a neo- liberal project which breeds a violent model of development. These empowerment schemes are hell-bent on replacing male bodies with a few female executives who without the critical mass of women are unable to transform the power relations and patriarchy in these male-dominated industries.
Sobukwe, today reminds us that it is not enough to fight for reforms, but to seek for a total overthrow of a government acting as a middle man of imperialism, white supremacy and patriarchy. Our experience as Pan Africanists, tells us that it is honourable to demand for the equality of women. It creates harmony in our society where we create a new reality that rejects the notion that men are more superior and dominant, over others as a means of asserting their existence.
We have submitted memorandums, we have displayed our pain in public, we have taken to the streets ample times to protest, multiple commissions have been set up but it has not stopped women from dying and violated physically, verbally, spiritually and emotionally.
We are revolting and uniting. We will not die in a society that has exploited and perpetuated the dehumanization of our bodies.
We are aware that to call for Justice in a society founded on injustice and inequality would be to pray away the devil in matters we know to be a creation of men. We understand the responsibility we have as women, of paving our own way to ending the war played out on our bodies.
We will not delegate our responsibility to anyone and as a response to that we mobilise and organise women to revolt and unite in:
·         Embarking on a Tools down from all women in society from all forms of work, as an act of defiance! We refuse to be tools used to maintain our very oppression. We have earned the right to revolt and rebel as a means of asserting and validating our humanity and we seek to do just that.
·         We are also calling for a day where we shall hold a public demonstration and insurrection. Our memorandum will be on the panties, bras and other undergarments that express the intimate violence we experience to the nearest police stations where they shall be hung. This will be a symbol of the scourge of violence  women experience, and the role that institutions of state like the police and courts play in perpetuating gender based violence.

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