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Integral Mission and Freedom

Zambia: A Response to Injustices

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26 September 2014

Micah Network held its 2014 Africa Regional Consultation on the theme of Integral Mission and Freedom in Livingstone, Zambia from September 8th - 12th. One of our members from South Africa, Lydia Moeng, has written the below paper as her response to the issues raised at the Consultation; which focused on particularly on human trafficking and domestic violence

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Presented by Dr Lydia Moeng

Senior Pastor of Monaana international word Ministries

President of Hephzibah Women of Destiny: South Africa

 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING ARE EVIL AND MUST BE CONDEMNED AND UPROOTED

Having attended the Micah Network and EFZ Consultation in Zambia, I stand convinced that we cannot be quiet and complacent anymore about Domestic violence and Human trafficking. These are ills and evils that do not belong to humanity. Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviour that transgresses the right of citizens to be free from violence. The ‘harm’ can take a variety of forms, whether it be from verbal abuse like shouting, emotional abuse like manipulation, control and/or humiliation, physical abuse like hitting and/or punching, and/or sexual abuse like rape and/or inappropriate touching of either the woman or her children. The South African Domestic Violence Act 1998 defines domestic violence as: Physical abuse, sexual abuse: emotional verbal and psychological abuse; economic abuse; intimidation; harassment; stalking; damage to property; entering into the complainants residence without consent where the parties do not share the same residence; and any other controlling or abusive behavior towards a complainant where such conduct harms, or my cause immediate harm to, the safety, health or wellbeing of the complainant.

The biggest challenges humanity faces with regard to Domestic violence and human trafficking is the inefficiencies of our justice systems in different countries. The case of Oscar Pistorius in South Africa is a typical example of how our Justice systems can fail us. Where prosecution fails to prove according to the judge that the perpetrator has committed murder and not culpable homicide, when there is all evidence to murder. This could also be the inefficiency of the judge to believe that when a person shoots four (4) times behind a closed toilet door, that is not intention to kill.

It is deeply worrying that South Africais regarded as a source, transit, and destination country for trafficked men, women, and children. This happens because many people especially in Africa look at South Africa as a rich country where they can have a better life. There are many borders giving easy access into South Africa from the nations of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). South African girls are trafficked within their country for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic servitude, while boys are trafficked internally for use in street vending, food service, cheap labour in the mines and agriculture. The recent case of a mother who sold children to a business man for sexual exploitation including her own daughter is really concerning. That is why irrespective of what reasons are, human trafficking can never be regarded as human. We must stand against it.

South Africa has one of the highest incidences of domestic violence in the world. And, sadly, domestic violence is the most common and widespread human rights abuse in South Africa. Every day, women are murdered, physically and sexually assaulted, threatened and humiliated by their partners, within their own homes. Organisations estimate that one out of every six woman in South Africa is regularly assaulted by her partner. In at least 46 per cent of cases, the men involved also abuse the children living with the woman. Is this normal? Can it be tolerated? We are going to build a very sick society.

Domestic violence is regulated by the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998. The Act was introduced in 1998 with the purpose of affording women protection from domestic violence by creating obligations on law enforcement bodies, such as the South African Police Service (SAPS), to protect victims as far as possible. It is upon this that we pray that governments shall empower all their law enforcement agencies and develop their justice system so that we have faith in these systems. Many cases are not reported because victims feel exploited by police and the justice system. Corruption on the other hand causes the rich to abuse and their cases thrown out of courts. The abused remain with the pain for life due to no recourse and justice.

South Africa has instituted a protection order, also called a restraining order or domestic violence interdict, which is a court order that tells an abuser to stop the abuse and sets certain conditions preventing the abuser from harassing or abusing the victim again. Due to high rates of abuse many people were killed even in the presence of the protection order due to lack of further protection of the victim by police.

The situation of abuse and human trafficking in South Africa is made worse by culture and tradition. SA is a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which requires states to eliminate gender discrimination. Although CEDAW does not contain an article dealing with domestic violence, two General Recommendations specifically address this issue. The recently formulated Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa enjoins States Parties to "modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of women and men…with a view to achieving the elimination of harmful cultural and traditional practices…' and contains several references to the obligation to eradicate violence against women. Although the Protocol has not yet been signed by South Africa, it can serve as evidence of the intention of African states to eliminate domestic violence. The South African Bill of Rights protects women's rights to gender equality and to bodily and psychological integrity. Therefore, it can be argued that South Africa has both international and constitutional obligations to eradicate violence against women and to create effective legal mechanisms to protect women who experience domestic violence. Despite this we have seen many women abused following Rules of Customary Law.

The Recognition of Customary Marriages Act requires that both parties consent to their marriage and the ukuthwala marriage could therefore no longer be used to overcome the bride's lack of consent. But the challenge is that women are still not given that opportunity to consent. The lobola issue on the one side has caused many women to be abused because men feel that they own them. They have paid for them. They therefore are property of the whole family of the woman’s in-laws.

Women in Africa still find it hard to enjoy the inheritance left by the spouse when the husband dies because the husband’s family would want to take ownership of the estate. In many instances when they come in to take over what belonged to their brother or son they don’t even consider that he had children. Sometimes they would even force a woman to be married by the late husband’s brother irrespective of how the woman feels about it. The recent case in the SA story of Muvhango is an example. The woman is forced to marry the late husband’s brother. Now there are stories that the girl cannot inherit from her late father’s estate as they believe she is not his daughter. The customary powers of punishment over wives and children would no doubt extend to what would be considered domestic violence under the Domestic Violence Act, which includes physical, verbal, economic and psychological abuse as well as 'any other controlling or abusive behaviour.'The challenge is that women who internalise customary expectations of submissiveness and obedience are less likely to complain of domestic violence.

Human trafficking and gender based and domestic violence are serious, evil and inexcusable. We therefore need to fight them. This reminds me of 2 Samuel 13: 1-39 where the Bible records domestic violence (particularly sexual abuse) against Tamar. Tamar’s brother Amnon wanted to sleep with her. He spoke to his uncle and told him that he ‘loved’ his sister. His uncle advised him to his father to get the virgin girl to come to the house to cook for him. The intention was that when she comes he would violate her and satisfy his desire to sleep with her. She came as per the father’s (David) permission. Amnon pretended that he was sick when she came to the house. He sent people outside and asked her to sleep with her. She refused and said NO many times. She even asked him to ask their father to authorise that they be married instead of him violating his virginity. To a girl virginity is her pride when she is handed in to marriage and she has never been touched by another man but her husband. Amnon refused. Just like many women and girls become victims, Amnon was stronger than Tamar. He forced himself on her and he raped her. After that he hated her and chased her away like a dog. Isn’t that what many men do? They like you and want you here. After sleeping with you they hate you. Absalom the brother heard about this and asked her to be quiet about it because he is a family member. So she was quietly dying inside in her pain for family’s sake. Her father David heard and became just furious but did nothing about it either. After 2 years Absalom killed Amnon in revenge for his sister. Another domestic violence challenge! In many families in Africa we have seen women violated like this and told to be silent. We need to stand up now and break the silence so that the law will take its cause, and we will not have to revert to violence for our blood. It is difficult in this highly industrialised era where mothers are working to trust other family members to can take care of our children in our absence for a few hours.

 

Let us pray that:

1.      God will open our eyes and minds that we shall not be fooled into being trafficked for any reason

2.      The young people will not be lured by money for sex and drug trafficking

3.      Governments will empower their justice systems to ensure justice for human trafficking and violence victims

4.      Governments shall enforce domestic violence international laws and be signatories to all of them

5.      The battle against domestic violence caused by traditions and culture shall be overcome so that African women shall be treated as people and not as property  

6.      Women will not abuse other women following violent traditions

7.      Churches will expose and deal with abuse and trafficking happening within its walls and its neighbourhood

 

We encourage all men to be part of One Man Standing and stand against abuse and human trafficking. We plead with all churches to be signatories to Micah Livingston declaration against abuse and human trafficking. We also plead with all people to choose to be human and care for other people.

 

Shalom

 

By Dr Lydia Moeng

South Africa

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You can respond to this paper from Lydia and continue the conversation by emailing info@micahnetwork.org