Fight against abuse must be taken to the next level

Sunday, August 5, 2018

In order to stop gender-based violence, South Africa must ensure the systems that are meant to protect women are working seamlessly.

This is according to former Minister Barbara Hogan who on Sunday addressed women at the Women’s Jail at Constitutional Hill, in Johannesburg as part of Women’s Month. Hogan was incarcerated at the jail after being charged for treason for her activities against the apartheid government.

The anti-apartheid activist said it was important to understand what allowed the abuse against women to continue and out of that shape initiatives.

“Our task going forward is to start understanding how we can take the struggle against gender-based violence to another level. We are protesting, we are making it visible, that’s got to be done because without that visibility and without people understanding that this is not the norm, women must not be abused [it will not stop],” Hogan said.

She said it was also important to understand why women who experience abuse suffer in silence.

“We need to be getting more into the social environments, what is happening in those environments to allow for it to continue to happen? We know there’s silence that allows it [to continue] but what are those fears that prompt silence, what is that invisibility,” Hogan said.

She said it was important to look at the broader impact of abuse as it affected women emotionally, psychologically and their functionality going forward.

“I think it’s great that women are standing up, the #MeToo movement ignited a lot and expanded on what was being done,” Hogan said.

The #MeToo campaign encourages women to speak out against sexual harassment and assault.

During the commemoration on Women’s Month Hogan reflected on her 10 year sentence. She was arrested in 1981 after coded reports she had sent to the African National Congress headquarters in Botswana were intercepted.

Hogan became the first white woman to be convicted of high treason in South Africa in 1982.

“Prison is one of those places where if you are a prisoner you suffer more exclusion, you are considered to be beyond the pale. Out of everybody that is excluded in society, prisoners are the most excluded, ignored and the most not responded to,” she said.

The programme for the event included visits to the graves of late struggle stalwarts Helen Joseph, Lilian Ngoyi, Rahima Moosa and Albertina Sisulu. –