Fear is incredible… How it conquers your mind and almost engulfs your soul into some endless pit of darkness. How it changes the rhythm of your heartbeat and subjects you to perpetual numbness. I just explained to you what it’s like to be black and woman and alive in South Africa right now.
Karabo Mokoena was a young woman that went missing on the 28th of April, her friends and family launched a social media campaign in hopes that someone may have some information about her whereabouts. Her body was found burnt and buried in a shallow grave. Her boyfriend allegedly confessed. Her story is one of many that we’ve seen on social media in the past few months and the outcome is almost always the same. This kind of story normally doesn’t attract this amount of media attention. Karabo Mokoena is one in four women that are killed by an intimate partner every day in South Africa. The statistics are probably much higher than that because bear in mind that most cases go unreported, unsolved or undiscovered. Who are they and when will their stories be heard?
Violence against women is an epidemic in South Africa and has been for a long time the only difference now is that social media has made it more apparent than ever. We’re seeing the media pay more attention to the murders of black women because black South Africans dominate social media now and that’s where most mainstream media publications get their stories. I understand that people are shocked but this plague of violence against women is not an enigma. It deserves outrage and anger not shock. South Africa has been gripped by violence against black women, be it in cultures, society or institutions. We have the highest rate of domestic violence against women globally but because it’s happening to black women, it has become normalised. Accepted. There just isn’t enough outrage, I understand people use social media to express themselves and I can attest to the impact of social media activism but I’m afraid it’s just not enough.
Women are dying. Where are the lawmakers? Where are the protectors of human rights? Why hasn’t the country stood still? A minister of Finance was fired, one man was fired and the country immediately hit junk status, women are being slaughtered, sexually assaulted and victimised at an alarming world capital rate but “investors” are not swayed. Our economy stands firm because black women are excluded from economic participation anyway (the gender income-gap can attest to this). There are multiple intersections at play here, some oppress the fundamental being of women but all oppress the fundamental being of black women and in most cases cost their lives.
The oppression of women is staring everyone in the face but they’re either too blind to see it or too indifferent to care. Arguments like “Men get raped too, men experience violence too” create a false equivalency. No one is saying men don’t experience violence but we’re saying women are experiencing violence at an alarming rate at the hands of men. The conversation is about women being treated like disposable objects. It’s about women becoming extinct right before your very eyes. It’s about losing your human rights just because you’re a girl child.
Karabo Mokoena’s murder opened a portal: #MenAreTrash. Women used the hashtag to share their stories and stories of women they’ve lost to the hands of men. From being violated by people they trusted to encounters with human traffickers, abuse and harassment. Not only did it shine the light on struggles women face but it also exposed our justice system for its failure to prevent, let alone combat these crimes.
This is Alexandra Buki‘s story. A woman that bravely escaped from her abductor by jumping out of a moving car. Warning: Graphic details of violence
Alexandra’s resilience is astounding. Unfortunately there are many more women whose resilience is overcome by the evil.
We need stricter laws, we need more trained police officers and we need a society of men that work together to prevent violence against women and children. We need a government that responds to the scourge of violence against women and children not just through statements but actions.
Strength to all South African women and black power to all black women.