WHAT EVERY WOMAN DESERVES.

South Africa commemorates Woman’s Month in August as a tribute to the more than 20000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women. South Africa will forever be indebted to the courage and unity displayed by women from all walks of life on that historic day, that stood up against the inhumane and draconian laws of the apartheid state. We have come a long way to scrap some of the most discriminatory laws that inhibited the advancement of women. But if truth be told, the playing field is not levelled yet and needs a conscious and deliberate approach in our various spheres of influence to give real and meaningful effect on equality for our women.

Society would be in big trouble without the peculiar characteristics of our women. They bring such a unique emotional capacity of care, empathy, warmth and sensitivity. There are however very disturbing trends emerging that have the potential to rob us of these unique traits. We have recently witnessed some of the most horrendous violent acts perpetrated against our woman and children. Last weekend’s horrendous acts of the gang rape of 8 young women in Krugersdorp whilst on set for a musical video shoot, is a stark reminder of this destructive phenomena. In an article published recently by Interpol, South Africa is being classified as the rape capital of the world. There is a holy anger that arises in me that says this nonsense must stop. As Martin Kuscus, a husband, father and brother to a few very precious women in my life, I cannot behave like the Biblical figure Cain asking a non-committal question – am I my brother’s keeper? It will require collective responsibility from all of us, to stem the tide of this disaster that is busy undermining the values that define us as a people.

Our nation is in desperate need of healing and compassion. It is about us having an urgent sense of being moved by other’s suffering so that your heart responds to their pain. Compassion is not only about pity, sympathy and charity. True compassion at its apex, levels the playing field and its final outcome is healing and wholeness. South Africa will not be free unless our women feel safe and secure in every space they find themselves in our country.

YOU CANNOT HAVE THE BENEFITS WITHOUT THE RESPONSIBILITY

We are regrettably living in a rights based environment without a concomitant culture of responsibility. When I read through some of the letters in newspapers and magazines, it baffles me that there is such a high level of abuse prevalent in relationships and how women can soldier on for years basing their hopes on the wrong reasons. Women can suffer in silence yet put up a brave face to the outside world. In the process it led to many women losing their self-confidence, their dignity being inflicted and their hopes shattered.

Some men developed a misplaced sense of entitlement in the manner they relate to women. Kevin Thompson describes this state of affairs so aptly:

– You cannot have sex without commitment.

– You cannot have peace in a relationship if you are avoiding the difficult conversations and just hope that it will go away.

– If the relationship is only about benefits, trust is going to gradually erode. If it is just about responsibility, hope is going to be dashed.

Given the distorted economic power relationships, some women find themselves in a situation where they almost feel trapped, because they might be totally destitute if they walk out of a relationship notwithstanding the high levels of toxicity they’ve got to endure. It is also sad to observe that some women are even living under a sense of false condemnation because of past mistakes. Their minds might be pre-occupied by this vexing question – who will marry me if I am having two children out of wedlock from two different men? Some women might not necessarily been physically abused but the words said and the attitudes projected towards them, make them feel worthless, yet they feel trapped. At times they might even be convinced by the church to stay in the relationship and keep on praying, things will come right. I do not want to discount the value of prayer, but there comes a time when in the face of glaring abuse and unfaithfulness, you have to draw the line my sister. You cannot correct what you are not willing to confront.

REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS

It is no secret that we come from an era of patriarchy where men held all the power and women were in a very subservient role. The skewed economic power relationships have also been used in many instances by unscrupulous men to manipulate and abuse woman. My challenge to my fellow brothers is that we have a responsibility to create a supportive environment in which our women can thrive and excel. A man will never be complete without the unique presence, care and wisdom of a woman; ask me. Women have also been given one of the greatest responsibilities in the universe – bringing a child into this world, rearing it and shaping its destiny. 

Every woman deserves her man to:

– Maintain a balance and utmost discipline in your life. Do not relegate the woman in your life as an after-thought, but her interests must be factored into all you do.

– Be sensitive and tender-hearted; it’s not always what we say but how we say it.

– Maintain relational integrity and be on the same page all the time. Talk what needs to be talked about.

– Be conscious about your own biases and preferences and guard against a situation that will reinforce gender insensitive stereotypes.

– Share responsibilities in the household and feed of the strengths of the woman in your life. It will not make a lesser man out of you.

– Never neglect an opportunity to genuinely and sincerely affirm, validate and compliment her for any effort how insignificant it might appears to the outside world.

– To honor and remain faithful to the covenant of marriage. This is informed by sound values that respond to this critical question – what are you really like when no one is looking?

– Take up your responsibility as a spiritual leader in your home and not only pray for her but with her. Have regular times together to reflect on the Word of God for instruction, direction and guidance.

– Plan all your endeavors thoughtfully and intentionally; do not be unduly carried away by the whims and fancies of your emotions.

To all the sisters out there, be strong, resolute and focused. We love and appreciate you for who you are and what you represent. Draw the line when abuse rears its ugly head; some unduly prolonged the inevitable and paid with their lives for it. See yourself the way your Creator sees you. He sees you as precious, valuable, beautiful and a vessel of honor. In the words of the revered Maya Angelou ” You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” 

Malibongwe igama lamakhosikazi!

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