Cowards in our midst

18
I

N the United States they used to lynch black people.

White men, especially the conservative ilk, were at the forefront of this barbaric habit.

Luckily they have since stopped, thanks to the society — the victims, fellow whites, observers, civic groups, churches and politicians — who stood up to their wicked ways.

In Lesotho we still beat women.

Basotho men are at the forefront of this terrible habit.

Unfortunately they haven’t stopped and will not stop until someone stops them.

They will continue with this appalling habit because they live in a society that still believes, erroneously so, that women are inferior minors that should be disciplined. Phew!

So prevalent is the violence against women in Lesotho that by the time I put a full stop to this 36-word sentence a man would have hit his wife or girlfriend with a thunderous slap.

She will scream from the excruciating pain but in no time the matter will be swept under the carpet sooner than she can cry ’m`e oa ka’.

Scrutator has seen women with scars on their faces, inflicted by men.

She has seen women painfully limping due to injuries inflicted on them by their men.

She has heard of whole men who practise their kung fu and karate lessons on women.

Some keep their melamu at hand, ready to strike women.

The pathetic excuse is to hide behind “our culture” or simply to claim that “she is my woman and I can do what I want with her”.

Yet the Basotho culture doesn’t condone such nonsense.

Rather, it says a woman is the mother of the family who must be cherished and supported.

Nowhere does it mention that fists and boots are the instruments of choice when it comes to dealing with women.

 

T

oday the Lesotho government will launch the much-hyped 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.

You can be sure that there will be fiery speeches against gender-based violence.

Violence against women will be condemned and women will ululate.

Sound bite hunting journalists will pick up the launch story and run with it to print.

Headlines will be made.

And for the next two weeks the government, always eager for the donor funds that come with such noble campaigns, will drive the message.

Cheques will probably stream into government coffers as impressed donors oblige to fund projects to help this cause.

Yet you can be as sure as the sun sets in the west that such a campaign will not stop some Basotho men from rolling up their sleeves to beat up women with zeal.

Scrutator has no doubt that even some of the women who will attend the launch will sleep with swollen faces tonight after being pummeled by their men.

They will go to sleep nursing the pain of blows delivered by men.

Scrutator has no iota of doubt that some men who will attend the launch function will gulp the free merry waters, gobble the food, listen to beautiful speeches and still head home to revert back to what they really are — women bashers.

 

M

en who beat women, for whatever reason, are wretched cowards.

They are muscular but weak men who rely on the old and discredited tactic of violence.

Scrutator believes the reason such bullies operate with impunity is because society remains silent.

Violence against women remains rampant because society always responds with the same pathetic ke Lesotho mona (this is Lesotho) mantra that has not taken us anywhere but backwards.

Once in a while when a woman musters enough courage to report to the police, the officers will be more concerned with what will happen to the perpetrator than the plight of the victim.

They will do something called counseling and deliberately forget that violence, whether it happens in a home, on the street, in a bar or in the bedroom, is a crime.

Even if the woman insists on opening a case her own fear of being left alone to take care of the family will trouble her until she drops the charges.

This is precisely because this country has no strong support mechanisms to address issues of gender violence.

Poverty is what keeps women locked up in abusive relationships.

Families lean on women to shut up about their abuse and remain in torturous relationships.

The commitment of women to keep their “families together” is what forces even women who are breadwinners to remain in abusive relationships.

Some men understand this and they abuse it with gusto.

When they are slapped, Basotho women tend to blame themselves for “driving” a man to smack them.

Instead of realisng that they are victims they actually think they are the aggressors.

They blame the victim for being aggressive.

They make excuses to explain why they have been beaten.

They apologise for being beaten.

Concerned friends and relatives are sometimes told that it’s none of their business.

The talkative types like Scrutator are called feminists and bitter for urging women to say no to gender violence.

 

T

wo week-wonders like the 16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence campaign will only highlight the problem but it will certainly not solve it.

Eradicating this problem starts with educating the society.

This education starts with us as a people and not the government or the donor community.

We must teach the women that no man has a right to beat up a woman.

We must teach our daughters that no man has a right to beat them for whatever reason.

In all this we must not alienate men for they are the aggressors who urgently need this education.

Men should be taught that the sickening notion that a woman is an inferior being belongs to the Dark Ages.

Boys must be taught that a real man respects women.

The battle against gender violence should not be a battle of sexes as some overzealous NGOs make it out to be.

Gender violence will only stop when men and women fight together.

The education campaign must be a sustained one.

Those who continue to beat up women must be jailed.

We must create support systems so that papa and moroho don’t decide whether or not gender violence is reported.

We need heroes who will speak out against gender violence.

Until that happens we will make noise against gender-based violence for 16 days every year but women will remain under the unbearable yoke.

Ache!

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