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SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT by Nokuzola Mndende, MP on the Speaker's debate on the incidents of rape and other forms of violence against women: causes and solutions (25/08/1999)

Man is born free, but everywhere women are in chains.

The Bill of Rights proclaims many “nice” promises about equality and the right of everybody to have their dignity respected and protected. But to the contrary we hear every day of the escalating rate of Violence against Women, ranging from wife battering to rape and incest. One wonders what is the meaning of such terms as Affirmative Action, Women’s Rights and Women’s Day, when all these are operating in an obviously sick patriarchal society where some abnormal males behave worse than animals.

We must agree, Madam Chair, that although we are liberated, the minds and hearts of some male members of our society are still focussed on oppression. Furthermore, we have to acknowledge that the current mechanisms used to deal with and change such unacceptable behaviour against women are not successful. We can have more women in Parliament or in senior positions in the Government and private sectors, but if the stereotypes are not dissolved women are still going to suffer. The stereotypes range from religious justifications for male superiority to frustrations of dehumanisation and oppression, and end up in physical, emotional and mental suffering. It is therefore important to have a truly non-sexist society.

The creation myths of male superiority, wrongly justified through religion, which are based on patriarchy confuse some irresponsible men to think that it is truly a divine creation which places then above women, and consequently, women are regarded as second class citizens. Even the positive steps by our government being against gender discrimination is still misconceived by some where they do not see it as the right of women, but rather see it as sympathy from male chauvinists.

These stereotypes of the holier-than-thou at home and in the society should be disavowed, since they are unfounded, unnatural and unGodly.

From these creation myths the judicial system emanated and put women on the receiving end, whereby sexual deviance by a male is accepted while the same behaviour by a women is a disgrace that could result in ex-communication.

We therefore need an integrated approach in the judicial system that addresses the underlying values in both the Western judicial system and the African traditional culture, where for example a person who engages himself in incest is ex-communicated because he is no longer acceptable to that society. Under such conditions we cannot accept that a judge could justify incest as of less criminal and psychological destructive effect than rape outside the family.

This integration of the judicial system, with the proper involvement of women and their perspective iyakwenza ukuba kungabikho namnye umntu oya kuthi athethelele amanyala namanyundululu. Kwakhona loo nto iya kwenza ukuba oongantweni abanale mikhuba bangabinathuba lokubambelela kwisebe lenkawu babe besithi yindalo into yokuba indoda ingabinakuzilawula kodwa ikwazi ukufuna ukulawula umntu obhinqileyo. Umntu onemikhuba kwaNtu usikelwa indlebe yenja ahlanjwe kuba akohlukanga esilwanyaneni.

Isidlwengu senzelwa isihewula ngoomama, amadoda ethule ethe cwaka kuba kaloku ayaziwa enokudlwengula ngomso, akukho nanye ebhaliweyo ukuba “Hayi mna ndilumkele ndisisidlwengu”. 

Umthetho Mhlekazi Maduna, Nokhala, Gubevu mawukhe uyisuse kotata into yodlwengulo ixoxwe ngoomama. Into yokuhlukumeza omama mayixoxwe ngomantyi neejaji ezingoomama. Ewe, siyayazi into yokuba akhona amanene ayonyanyayo into yokuphathwa kakubi kwabantu basegoqweni, kodwa ke njengoko sele nditshililo ababhalwanga sothuka mihla le .amanene  ebesiwathembileyo  ekwizikhundla eziphezulu egila imikhuba, ebetha abafazi akugqiba athi sikwidemocracy atsho eshiya umfazi egcuma zintlungu ekhaya.

From that feeling of being the head of the homestead sometimes emanates an illusion of grandeur. The escalating rate of unemployment leads to feelings of insecurity for such men. Inevitably this leads to moral degeneration. Such a person often looks for a weaker person to oppress and women in such positions have always taken a submissive role because women by nature would think about the future of their children.

Women themselves should unite. The approaches used to combat crimes against women have to be integrated. There should be no holier-than-thou approach. There should be cooperation between all social classes in our society. Unfortunately solutions are either commercialised by women themselves or imposed from above without directly involving those at grassroots level who are most seriously hit by this sickness. A combination of the elements of wisdom and experience at the grassroots level of society together with the expertise of the Government can produce a viable long-term solution.

Rapists know they can get away with their crimes because there are no tough laws, being actively implemented, to deter them. The government must bear in mind that murder is no worse than the spiritual torture of being raped, especially by one’s own father.

Madam Speaker, we have to see the larger context of which this issue is but one manifestation. The truth is that our society suffers from moral degeneration in all of its facets. It is in light of this fact that the UDM has tabled a motion before this House that we as public representatives undertake, as a matter of extreme urgency, to instigate serious strategies to revive national moral regeneration, addressing specifically our public schools, as well as the ever-increasing incidence of rape and violence against women.

We must confirm that national moral regeneration is one of this House’s first priorities, which entails more than just the condemnation of vile acts, but also a concerted effort by all South Africans to revive family values and the concept of Ubuntu, realising that without such action all other activities that this House engages in, to create a better society, will be futile

If we commit ourselves to such action, Madam Speaker, I can assure you this sickness will be eradicated.

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