3 December 2019

 

Honourable members.

Honourable Speaker allow me to foreground my input to the debate of this magnitude by quoting the preamble of the 1954 women’s charter  “We, the women  of South Africa, wives and mothers ,working women and housewives, African, Indian, European and coloured, hereby declare our aim of striving for the removal of all laws, regulations, conventions and customs that discriminate against us as women and that deprive us in any way of our inherent right to the advantages, responsibilities and opportunities that society offers to any one section of the population.

It cannot be correct that 65 years since the adoption of the 1954 Women’s charter that women still fight against customs and cultural practices that discriminate against women.

1.The revival of traditions, culture and customs, and the practices derived from them, after the demise of colonialism, imperialism and apartheid will definitely require us to enter into a dialogue on the character of our ancestors and what is really indigenous. However, the process should take the context into consideration. Some of the cultural practices that were necessary then are unnecessary now due to development, globalisation and other factors. Some cultural practices that need to be scrutinised such as

  1. the practice of virginity testing Women are expected to maintain a very high level of morality to be married to 'honourable' men who might have deflowered and/or impregnated a string of girl victims, and might possibly even be HIV positive. On the other hand, virginity testing poses a threat of discrimination against girl children who are not virgins (who in many instances may have been raped). The reasons advanced for virginity testing do not focus on prevention and protection.
  2. The practice of Ukuthwala is a form of abduction that involves the kidnapping of a girl or a young woman by a man and his friends or peers with the intention of compelling the girl or young woman's family to endorse marriage negotiations.

There is a proven link between a lack of education, underdevelopment and poverty. Ukuthwala deprives girl children of opportunities to educate and develop themselves. Furthermore, research indicates that the majority of the girls and young women that are victims of Ukuthwala are from poor families. Their lack of education and underdevelopment, due to Ukuthwala, deepens their poverty and perpetuates the cycle of poverty.

 

A Gender Activist and Advocate of the High Court MJ Maluleke emphasised the following that honourable members during the revival of tradition, culture and customs is part of the new national and international identity; however, this revival must be rooted in a way of life based on human rights, democracy and equality for all, and understood from a point of view of Ubuntu. Thus, culture, tradition and customs have to be balanced within the social and legal context of the constitution and provisions of the Bill of Rights

3. In the same breath we must address patriarchy in society, Patriarchy remains deeply entrenched within the fabric of our society to such an extent that most women consider it to be a normal way of life. This must change. Steve Biko once remarked that

Women must be at the forefront of nation building to bring the South African citizenry together and therefore develop a whole new ethos of human co-existence.’

Women have shaken off the shackles of the past and in their determined struggle against political and socio-economic oppression, have deservedly earned themselves a place in the history books of our great nation, Women like Umama Winnie, Umama Sisulu , Tambo, De Bruyin and many others. The sad reality however today is that they remain bound by the shackles of a different kind – patriarchy.

The recent killing of women in our country bears testament that the chains that bind them find expression in the patriarchal society. We need to work as a collective to address patriarchy and that is in line of the following incidents:

  1. A hitchhiking trip from job interviews in Johannesburg turned tragic for two siblings from Carolina in Mpumalanga, Hon Mhlongo it is painful that when one was raped and shot dead while her brother with disabilities was thrown off a moving taxi.
  2. A 22 year old Sebokeng (Gauteng) man allegedly stabbed his mother and four year old sister to death  Hon Dlozi right your neighbourhood.
  3. In Univeristy of Zululand we heard about the murder of the Dean of Arts who was killed allegedly for refusing to approve desertations which did not meet the requirements. Hon Hlengwa this has left other deans in fear and requiring bodyguards everywhere they go.
  4. In Limpopo we see yet another young bright lady who was in fact a breadwinner and supported her family using her NASFAS Grants monthly stipend - Precious Ramabulana  was brutally killed Hon ….. by a man who did it because of lust, entitlement and stabbed her 52 times. We saw another brutal death of the UCT student.

All of these incidents are a result of patriarchy and they are happening right in our country, home provinces, schools, workplace  and  not far from where many of us here reside, therefore, it should be the duty of each every honourable member here today both on platform and off platform that we become vocal about issues of GBV , these are serious matters that should not be used for cheap politicking, we should work towards strengthening our safety, as policy makers we should see fit that law enforcement agencies are capacitated because it cannot be a matter of 16 days of activism but a daily matter dealt with in order to dismantle the system of patriarchy, because It is imperative that women are brought to the forefront of all our nation building efforts.

5. Honourable members, women do not wish to form a society separate from the men and in their belief, there is only one society and it is made up of women, children and men.

Speaker, women share with their menfolk the scares and anxieties imposed by poverty and its evils.

  • TOGETHER WE CAN DEFEAT POVERTY
  • TOGETHGER WE CAN DEFEAT UNEMPLOYMENT
  • TOGETHER WE CAN DEFFEAT GENDER BASED VIOLENCE
  • TOGETHER WE CAN DEFEAT FEMICIDE

Last but not least the matter of dealing with teaching society about respect, consent and human rights of women must extend to public servants as well, it cannot be in this constitutional dispensation POLICE OFFICERS or law enforcement agencies has officials who are insensitive to issues of GBV, women rights or queer bodies. Public servants found exercising toxic masculinity, patriarchy or violating human rights must attended to decisively by the accounting officers.  Human rights remain paramount and should be given the respect they deserve.

I leave all of you with the words of the late Mama Winnie Mandela who said:

"The overwhelming majority of women accept patriarchy unquestioningly and even protect it, working out the resultant frustrations not against men but against themselves in their competition for men as sons, lovers and husbands. Traditionally the violated wife bides her time and off-loads her built-in aggression on her daughter-in-law. So men dominate women through the agency of women themselves."