In the wake of two high-profile murders of young women in South Africa, Sally Matthews responds to President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address, in which he mentioned the need for “an everday campaign” against gender-based violence.
Many call for harsher sentences for rapists and murderers, but there is little evidence that such sentences actually act as a deterrent for such crimes. Others respond to GBV by renaming Valentine’s Day “V-day” and dancing in protest against rape, but many feel that such trendy forms of protest are nothing more than “slacktivism”—actions, which make us feel better, but have little actual influence.
Some look to the establishment of new institutions, such as the National Council on Gender-Based Violence which Zuma mentions will change things, but the creation of such institutions may do nothing more than make government appear to be doing something.
All of the above—stronger laws, stricter sentences, protest events and new institutions—may well form a part of such an “everyday campaign”, but for such a campaign to be effective, we also need to think carefully about the everyday actions and attitudes that form the foundation upon which GBV is built.
Her thoughts on those actions and attitudes apply pretty accurately to the United States, as well.