The year 2020 is indeed a mixed bag of disappointments, massive loss of lives due to COVID-19, but the silencing of Gender Based Violence activists in 2020 is saddening ever since the emancipation of women has become a rallying cry, in particular in these Southern parts of Africa to those opposed to the silencing, naming and shaming of women. I feel disgusted that a new trend has erupted in South Africa which targets to silence gender based violence activists through intimidation by the alleged perpetrators lawyers.
A gender based violence activist, Ntsiki Mazwai opened up about being intimidated by an alleged rapist’s lawyers who demanded that she must not raise her voice on matters related to rape and any other gender based violence issues in South Africa.
This is a huge blow to the progress of emancipating woman in African societies who are undeniably still at the bottom of the barrel. Melinda Gates once articulated that, “a woman with a voice, is by definition a strong woman,”.
It should therefore be understood that finding that voice to speak out is what many women find remarkably difficult, hence it is of paramount importance to support those who are strong enough to speak out as representatives of those struggling to let their voices heard. What Ntsiki Mazwai and other gender based violence activists are doing is evident enough that their voices are shaking and upsetting the partriachal pillars and conservatists are feeling the heat, but so sad that they don’t want to move off the pavement, thus their retaliation is to threaten into silence submission, so pathetic!
This new trend of silencing voices speaking out loud about rape and other forms of gender based violence in Africa by lawyers of the alleged perpetrators shows how these rapists are swiftly changing their modus operandi, and if nothing is done about it very soon they will become untouchable with their lawyers being at the forefront shielding them.
There is however, a ray of hope after the African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) made a statement that it has come to their attention that voices of gender based violence activists are being silenced by lawyers of the alleged rapists.
The ANCWL also confirmed in their statement that indeed Ntsiki Mazwai was being threatened by lawyers of the alleged rapists demanding that she must not speak out concerning issues of rape of women and any other gender based violence issues.
“We will engage with Ntsiki Mazwai and seek legal advice on how we can support her and many others who are threatened through lawyers when they raise their voice against the high level of rape in our country,”, they said.
What is now left is to see action being taken to address this new trend of stifling voices of GBV activists which has erupted. The voices of those speaking out for rape victims and any other forms of gender based violence should be heard loudly and clearly because, “a woman with a voice is by definition, a strong woman,”.