Unpack the everyday acts
You may not be a victim or perpetrator of violence yourself, yet we are all in society and so we can each play our part to help heal the pain of those around us. This UN website page offers many suggestions of how you can take easy ‘everyday actions’.
It’s not enough to rely on the police and social services to solve the crisis in gender abuse. Violence against women and children is endemic in South Africa. While human rights are enshrined in our laws and our constitution, the problem is simply too big for the authorities to handle on their own, so here are some further suggestions to which we can each pay attention:
- Watch your words – catch yourself when you are about to use language and expressions that cut women down – even when others might think it’s funny.
- Don’t play along when others they say things or tell jokes demeaning of women – like referring to them as sexual objects. Voice your objection – and even walk away.
- Intervene when you find a woman or child being harassed – warn the offenders that they will be reported.
- Learn to detect the tell-tale signs of abuse – bruises, downcast eyes, that look of fear or sadness – and gently inquire. Then point them in the right direction to get help.
- And speak up – make gender abuse a talking point. Raise it in your conversations with men, as well as women. Talking about it can become normal – don’t let avoidance perpetuate their suffering in silence.