Women in South Africa continue to face disturbing levels of oppression, violence and injustice. While the Constitution guarantees equality and freedom for all regardless of sex, gender or sexual orientation, the prevalence of abuse, rape and murder in our society shows us these guarantees remain only on paper. TAC, the Social Justice Coalition, Sonke Gender Justice, and others have worked for over a decade to improve the criminal justice system and change gender norms in society. We recognise that the problem of patriarchy and violence against women in our society is complex, deeply entrenched and has no quick solutions. But that is no excuse for inaction.
While most people agree that rape, abuse and murder are wrong – everyday actions that oppress women and the widely-held belief that women should defer to men, get little criticism. These acts of patriarchy also need to be dealt with to ensure equality in everyday life. We call on men who truly believe in an equal and a just society to do things very differently. To constantly interrogate their actions and privileges to understand how they contribute to the disempowerment and control of women. To refuse to hide behind our various cultures and traditions – equality and respect for women is more important than any culture.