REFLECTIONS ON THE LIVED REALITIES OF A DOUBLE PANDEMIC - Mx Busisiwe Nxumalo

 

This year has been declared as the year of Charlotte Maxeke. The continuous celebration of her is important. We draw lessons from phenomenal women like her , who have fought against patriarchy during a time it was not fashionable to do so. This is also historic as it is important to give recognition to women    who played an important role in the struggle. It is also assisting in fighting the historical erasure of women in history. There are many women who have fought for where we are right now. While we are observing Women’s month in the year of Charlotte Maxeke, one must note that there is not much celebration given the harsh lived realities of women and gender minorities. There has been a shocking increase of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and a spike in hate crimes. Violence and homophobia have hit like a plague. 

 

GBV has escalated to a point where it has been declared as a second pandemic. There are many people who experience violence and would be very reluctant to go and open a case at the police station. This is due to the fact that when they do arrive at the station , they would experience secondary victimization from the officials or the matter would not be taken seriously. Victims also sometimes can face victimization from the perpetrator. We need a better support system for victims so that these kinds of things don’t happen. There are certain groups of people that have elevated the rate of victimization. These groups would be the Queer community , people with disabilities and sex workers. It is a known fact that women are economically disadvantaged, as they are vulnerable. This is why it becomes important to also liberate women economically so that they can be equipped to fight against their struggles of their daily lives and lived experiences

 

We are a country that prides itself on having a constitution that does not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity but the lived experiences of gender minorities are very different to the legislation. There has been a deliberate attack on Queer people in the country which has spiked the recent hate crimes we have seen. These kinds of atrocious actions are reversing the gains of our democracy and work that Queer activists have done. There is a harsh brutality and reality that people are facing as a result of their gender identity and sexual orientation and there must be harsh punishment for those who commit such crimes. The lack of tolerance for one another is deeply rooted from a sense of ignorance. We must continuously condemn these horrendous actions and they must not be tolerated. The implementation of the hate crime and hate speech bill becomes of paramount importance. It will be one of many channels that can protect the rights of Queer people in South Africa .We must also support  the call from Queer activist on the continent who are calling for Queer rights to be recognised 

 

With all this violence that is happening , we cannot sit back. Being a person who does not commit violence is not enough. We need speak out more and also support the efforts which empower and address gender inequality and ending discrimination. No one body is responsible to resolve the current crisis we are facing.  We are all collectively responsible to end GBVF and to end the violence on Queer bodies. We must be unapologetic in fighting all  systems of oppressions and injustices simultaneously as they intersect with each other. It can only be achieved through collective action, as this is a societal issue and should be our central moral challenge. As activists , we must carry on fighting against patriarchy and build the non-sexist society we strive for

 

“ This work is not for yourselves , kill that spirit of self and do not live above your people , but live with them, and if you can rise, bring someone with you” - Charlotte Maxeke 

 

These are the words of the Great Charlotte Maxeke that we must bear in mind in our everyday lives as leaders and activists of the movement 

 

Written by Mx Busisiwe Nxumalo. LGBTQIA+ activist. ANC Gaby Shapiro Branch Deputy Chairperson. YWD National Subcommittee Member :Political Education. University of Cape Town Alumni

 

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