August, 2018

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Violence Against Women & the Struggle for Socialism

WASP members will be participating in the #TotalShutdown marches organised for 1 August.

by WASP Womens Caucus

The Medical Research Council of South Africa revealed in 2017 that it is women who are among the poorest 20% of society that experience the most violence. SAPS 2016/17 reported that a woman is raped every 36 seconds and in 2015 Stats SA found that almost 61% of femicide cases take place at the woman’s home. About 150 women report being raped to the police daily. Fewer than 30 of the cases will be prosecuted, and no more than 10 will result in a conviction – this translates into an overall conviction rate of 4% – 8% of reported rape. Many women do not report rape because of the poor conviction rate. Movements like #MeToo have clearly demonstrated that rape is a problem throughout the world. Women are sexually assaulted by their bosses, their partners and strangers. Despite this impunity, some men claim they now fear “flirting” with women because of these reports. Sexual harassment is downplayed by those like former president Jacob Zuma who said “When men compliment you innocently, you say its harassment.”

Too little is done to make society a safe environment for women and children. As well as discrimination, the brutality brought to bear on women is extended to LGBTQI people in the form of “corrective” rape, mob killings and in some countries, the death sentence. LGBTQI groups experience oppression under capitalism because they ‘threaten’ family structures that help to reproduce class inequality through the subjugation of women to men and other forms of discrimination including race, ethnicity, religion and nationality.

Gender based violence is one of the many features of a patriarchal class society. Men hold power over women and are supported in this, by culture, religion and educational institutions as well as the media. When this ‘soft power’ fails, their dominance is exercised through violence to either control or punish or silence women. For centuries, female genital mutilation in Africa has been practiced as part of culture, so also was the binding of women’s feet in China, honour killings in India, witch burnings in Europe and many more horrific crimes that continue to this day despite being outlawed in many countries.

Patriarchy has given men a false sense that “manhood” is exercised through violence, control and subjugation of women especially when they are being badly treated at work or feel powerless in society. The sense of alienation of capitalism also explains suicide levels among men that are five time higher than among women. Furthermore, men too, are affected by this violence against their daughters, mothers and wives and to a lesser extent, against themselves. This is why men’s movements like #NotInMyName surfaced precisely from the understanding that it is our collective responsibility to fight oppression and inequality, most importantly the very system that breeds and continues to perpetuate it. Oppression of women and the LGBTQI community, which are distinct features of capitalism, needs to end now. The struggle for freedom and equality is necessarily a struggle to do away with capitalism and bring forth a socialist society so we can bring about permanent change and equality for all regardless of sex, gender or sexual orientation. This can only be achieved by struggles led by the working class (both men and women) for the total transformation of society.


We campaign for the following:

  • Campaign and fight for equal pay for equal work; fight for paid parental leave for all workers (men and women); fight for free, state-funded and high-quality pre-school education for all; fight for high-quality, accessible shelters for survivors of domestic abuse and rape and create the freedom to leave abusive relationships. Link up with the trade union movement.
  • Build democratic, accountable mass community organisations in every community.
  • Participate in Community Policing Forums and fight for community oversight of policing to combat corruption and ensure all reports of GBV are taken seriously and dealt with professionally and quickly; organise community watch programmes under the democratic control of community organisations with the mass participation of the community.
  • Community organisations to campaign against domestic violence and rape in communities; community-watch programmes to take up defence of women with the full participation of women.
  • Community organisations to campaign against hate crimes against LGBTQI people, including corrective rape; community watch programmes to take up defence of LGBTQI people with the full participation of LGBTQI people.
  • Campaign for training on gender-based violence for all law enforcement and court officials
  • Campaign for adequate resources to investigate and stop human trafficking.
  • End the class foundations of gender inequality. Nationalise under democratic working class and community control the banks, the mines, the commercial farms, the big factories and big businesses for a publicly owned and democratically planned socialist economy to meet the needs of all.
  • Forge the fighting unity of the working class in a party of mass struggle. Build a socialist mass workers party to unite the struggles of the workplaces, the communities and the youth as a vital step toward the creation of a mass revolutionary party.