Round-table conversation on shifting the socio-economic structures that entrench gender inequality and violence
PACSA hosted a roundtable discussion on the 26 November focusing on ‘Shifting the socio-economic structures that entrench gender inequality and violence.’ This roundtable which was attended by 26 people from a range of social partners formed part of our 16 Days campaign of Activism against Gender-based violence.The conversation was structured around three questions: whether laws alone will shift gender inequality and violence and women’s experience of the criminal justice system in relation to gender-based violence; the socio-economic, cultural and religious structures and narratives that entrench gender-based violence as ‘normal’ and which reproduce violence and silence the victims; how to shift the socio-economic structures that entrench gender inequality and violence.The picture which emerged from the conversation is one in which perpetrators have easy accessing bail and are often given lenient sentences if arrested by the police. Participants spoke of re- victimisation of victims of gender-based violence by the criminal justice systyem.
A key contribution made by the Ms Bridget Dlamini from the KZN Legislature, herself a person suffering from disability, was that disable women suffer multiple levels of abuse when faced with gender-based violence. Disable women are often stigmatised due to their disability by communities and even the police who pass derogatory remarks when people with disability want to open cases of gender-based violence or sexual abuse.
The role that culture plays in entrenching structural violence was highlighted by Jenny Bell from Justice for Women (JAW) who presented a case-study on their work and the challenges they facing. 52% of KZN land is owned by iNgonyama Trust, which is governed by Amakhosi which traditional structures. Some of these structures have made it impossible for women to access land and other resources in traditional and rural areas. Cultural structures have become harmful to both men and women, where practices like ukuthwala, ukungenwa, ukuqomisa, and others are still practiced. It was noted that rape is on the rise in the province and is becoming a norm.
Focusing on economic violence against women the conversation raised issues such as: the South African economic structures favour men who put more burdens to women. Economic factors in the home is often the source for much contestation and which leads to emotional, physical, verbal, and many more abuses against women and children. Some form of violence is perpertrated by the state such as the removal of street hawkers and waste pickers which consuists mainly of women trying to ends meet.
An outcome of the conversation was that civil society organisations should work together through sharing resources and platforms to enhance their role in eradicating violence against women and children and gender inequality. The socialisation of boys requires new strategies to ensure that there is a new generation with respects women and children. We also need to deepen our understanding of the economic structures that continue to entrench violence against women. One such example is the affordabuility crisis facing lowe-income households. The increasing costs of food, electricity, education and housaing falls mainly on the shoulders of womewn and this is a form of violence where women carry the burden. It was also decided to start an “informal” group of gender activist to continue meeting and informs the practice of CSO’s and government.