Opinion piece on Gender and Disability journal
by Dhivana Rajgopaul
Disability is an issue that has created a social divide. The gap I based on the perception of what is socially constructed as ‘normal’ and that disabled people are often discriminated against because they do not fit the definition of what is normal. This contributes to people with disabilities being socially marginalised by society.
The Agenda issue “Gender and Disability” draws attention to the different kinds of social inequality experienced by the disabled as a demographic group, particularly the inequality that is experienced by disabled women as a result of their sex.
They are not classified with “normal” society places them into the “other” category. Kharnita Mohammed and Tamara Shefer, the guest editors of the issue, write in the introduction to the Agenda that the way that society others disabled people has made people with disabilities seem incapable of living a full life with the aspirations experienced by wider society. This perception is used to deny them the opportunities that a so-called normal person has access to or can choose.
One of the biggest issues raised in the journal is the inequality between disabled men and disabled women. While all disabled people have a disadvantage in terms of job opportunities, women with disabilities are less likely to get a job than a disabled man. Statistics by the United Nations indicate that the global literacy rate for adults with disabilities is three percent and one percent for women with disabilities.
In addition to the prejudice and social exclusion that disabled people face from society research by the United Nations reflects that there is a divide between women who are disabled and men who are disabled. This social divide tends to perpetuated by close personal networks such as friends and family as well as society. Disabled women are seen as being weaker than disabled men and are therefore more sheltered by their family members. Their families are afraid of what will happen to them if they experience the world on their own. Consequently families prefer to keep women with disabilities at home, isolating them from life and the experiences that would provide opportunities for the full development of their abilities and potential.
Women with disabilities also confront problematic social perceptions and stigmas that persist about disability as women as indicated in the Agenda issue. Both disabled women along with men are considered, incorrectly, to be asexual or without any sexual desire. As they are labelled as being asexual, women in particular have been expected to forego motherhood partially because there is misplaced social fear that they may pass along ‘faulty genes’ to their offspring. However according to an article in the Agenda issue 97% of disabilities are acquired rather than congenital.
The vulnerability of women with intellectual disabilities to gender based violence was a topic is discussed by Talia Meer and Helene Combrinck who write that women with intellectual disabilities are susceptible because of their social isolation and because social myths hold that disabled women are never abused. Their isolation creates circumstances of where they are vulnerable to abuse; they have no protection from social or friendship networks to whom they can turn for help.
A participant in the study that Meer and Combrinck conducted spoke of how women are seen as lesser in her community and women with disabilities are at an even greater risk of violation because they are seen as being unable to defend themselves and often they are too afraid to say anything if they are being abused.
Imbokodo nayo inamalungelo
by Bhekumndeni Kunene
Eminyakeni engamashumi amabili nanye eyedlule izwe laseNingizimu Afrikha lathola inkululeko. Enye yezinhlosonqangi zenkululeko kwakungunikeza bonke abantu bakuleli izwi, lapho kubalwa nabesifazane kanye nezingane.
Nakuba sekudlule isikhathi eside kangaka lakhululeka izwe lethu kodwa abantu besifazane abaningi basazithola bengenawo amalungelo afana nawabantu besilisa ikakhulukazi ezindaweni zasemakhaya.
Abantu besifazane kuleli basazithola bengalingani nabantu besilisa emikhakheni yezemisebenzi, ezamaholo kanye nakwezamabhizinisi. Lokhu kuyakhalisa kakhulu ngoba inkululeko eyavotelwa izakhamuzi zakuleli yayikubeka kucace bha ukuthi bonke abantu abahlala kuleli bayalingana akukhathalekile ukuthi bangabesilisa noma abesifazane.
Okuphawulekayo ngaloludaba ukwazi ukuthi abantu besifazane babhekene nalenselelo cishe emhlabeni wonke. Lokhu kushiwo uSolwazi uNaydene de Lange waseNelson Mandela Metropolitan Universiy. Abantu besifazane babhekene nezinselelo eziningi ngoba ibona okumele babhekane nomsebenzi wokwakhiwa kwekhaya nokukhuliswa kwezingane.
Abantu besifazane abaningi ikakhulukazi kwizwekazi lase-Afrika, basabhekene nokuntuleka kwemisebenzi ezindaweni zasemakhaya. Kudingeka amadoda ahambe aye ezindaweni ezikude ukuyofuna umsebenzi, ashiye ngemuva abantu besifazane ukuthi kube yibona ababhekene nokukhulisa izingane.
Zonke lezizinselelo zenza abantu besifazane babe izisulu zokuhlukunyezwa ngokocansi. Owesifazane uma ehlala yedwa abantu besilisa baye bambone njengomuntu okulula ukwenza noma yini kuye. Abanye besifazane bazithola sebenikela ngemizimba yabo kubantu besilisa ukuze bakwazi ukondla imindeni yabo.
Lokhu kwenza lezizinselelo zande ikakhulu kubantu abampofu ngoba uthola sekwanda abantu abanegciwane lesandulela ngculaza, kugcine sekwanda izintandane namakhaya aphethwe izingane uma abazali bedlula emhlabeni. Ukwanda kwezingane eziphethe amakhaya kwandisa izingane eziyeka isikole.
Kuyo yonke imikhakha yempilo, inzalabantu isabhekene nokuhlukunyezwa ngokocansi. Abaningi babo sebaze bakwamukela njengento abangaphila nayo genxa yokuthi noma beyobika kwabomthetho ababakholwa. Abanye bahlukunyezwa amalunga emindeni yabo bethi mabebika kuthiwe abathule ngoba kuvikelwa isithunzi somndeni.
Abantu besifazane abaningi kutholakala ukuthi abanalo ulwazi olwanele mayelana nokuhlukunyezwa ngokocansi.Ucwaningo esikhungweni semfundo ephakeme i-Durban University of Technology luveze ukuthi abantu besifazane kuningi okubenza bazizwe bengaphephile ngaphakathi esikhungweni. Kukhona abantu besilisa abababuka ngendlela engathandeki, abanye bakhuluma izinkulumo ezigudla ubulili babo futhi nalokho kubenza bengakhululeki. Bathi bebengazi ukuthi konke lokhu kungena ngaphansi kokunukubezeka ngokocansi.
Opinion piece on Gender Based Violence
by Dhivana Rajgopaul
Gender based violence is a serious problem but the only way to prevent it is to take action against it. We should try to create awareness about this issue and give women platforms to speak out about violence against women. By being open about gender based violence women will not be discouraged or afraid to talk about their abuse and they can become the strength to another victim.
The introduction of the issue of Agenda Girl led interventions journal by Naydene de Lange and Claudia Mitchell highlights terrifying statistics South Africa has one of the highest rates of sexual assault in the world and it is estimated that only one in 25 women who have been raped have reported the rape to the police. It is a social concern that women don’t report being sexually abused is an issue that we need to talk about to make girls/women realise that they are not alone if they are being abused.
As a society women should be able to speak out against sexual violence. Speaking about their abuse is a better way to address the problem than shunning or ignoring them as a society. We can prevent sexual violence by talking about the problem and creating awareness. The Agenda issue on girl led interventions highlights the importance of activism to prevent gender violence and provides some examples of what people are doing in their communities to create dialogue about sexual violence.
Ndumiso Ngidi a Masters in Development Studies graduate and Relebohile Moletsane a professor in rural education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal ran a peer education programme in which young men and women, educated school pupils. They developed a curriculum module to get high school students to talk about sexual violence. The project created a space where people could discuss their experiences of gender violence as both victims and perpetrators. Adolescent girls between the ages of 12 and 17 are most at risk of being victims of sexual violence that is why this programme is ground breaking it broke the silence on issues that are not usually spoken about with young people and at the same time created the space where they could think about the values that allow tolerance of cultures of violence and question them.
Ngidi feels that programmes like the one that he ran at the high school are important for getting students to talk about sexual violence. “If you create a platform then students will be open”, he said.
Recently at a dialogue at the Durban University of Technology a panel of students spoke about their understanding of sexual violence. One of the key issues that they brought up was the peer pressures that a campus student faces to fit in. The students talked about how they become victims of sexual assault and actions that need to be taken to prevent it. Sibusiso Moyo a professor at the Durban University of Technology and a guest speaker at the dialogue called sexual violence an “invisible issue” because sexual violence is not spoken about on campuses.
The dialogue raised the needs for students to be part the creation of policy to ensure that the students do have the power to protect themselves and that universities involve students in drafting policy on gender based violence and sexual harassment.
Abantu abaphila nokukhubazeka nabo bangabantu
by Bhekumndeni Kunene
Kubalulekile ukuthi sonke sibenolwazi ngokuhlukumezeka kwabantu abaphila nokukhubazeka. Inhlangano ezimele i-Agenda Feminist Media ishicilele ibhuku elibizwa ngokuthi i-Gender and Disability. Kulelibhuku kuthathwe abacwaningi abahlukahlukene ukuthi benze ucwaningo ngezihloko ezimbalwa ezithinta abantu abaphila nokukhubazeka.
Ucwaningo luveze okuningi abantu abangakhubazekile abangakugqizi qakala kodwa kube kunomthelela omkhulu ezimpilweni zabantu abaphila nokukhubazeka. Lolucwaningo luveze ukuthi abantu abaphila nokukhubazeka benza ingxenye engangesigidi sezigidi yabantu abahlala emhlabeni jikelele.
Kulelibhuku kwenziwe ucwaningo ezwekazini lase-Afrikha okuyilona elinabantu abaningi abaphila nokukhubazeka emhlabeni. Injongo enkulu yalolucwaningo bekunguzizwela ukuthi bona uqobo lwabo abantu abaphila nokukhubazeka bathini ngendlela abantu ababaphatha ngayo nangendlela abesifazane ikakhulukazi abaphathwa ngayo emphakathini.
Kuningi okuvezwe ucwaningo. Kukhona isiqephu esikhuluma ngokuthola usizo lwezocansi emitholampilo kwabantu abaphila nokukhubazeka. Lolucwaningo lwenziwe edolobheni laseThekwini esifundazweni saKwaZulu Natal. Luveze ukuthi kunomehluko omkhulu ngendlela abantu besifazane abakhubazekile abaphathwa ngayo uma befika emtholampilo kunabantu besilisa. Luphinde lwaveza ukuthi abantubesifazane abaphila nokukhubazeka batholakakhulu ukuhlukumezeka ngokomoya kubasebenzi basezikhungweni zezempilo.
Kulolucwaningo kutholakale ukuthi abasebenzi basemtholampilo baye bebuze abesifazane abaphila nokukhubazeka ukuthi bazowenzani amajazi omkhwenyana. Uma ethi uzowasebenzisa, baye bahleke bethi kaze wayithathaphi indoda. Lokhu kuveza ngokusobala ukuthi umphakathi wonkana ucabanga ukuthi uma umuntu wesifazane ephila nokukhubazeka akanazo izidingo zezocansi. Abanye baveze ukuthi abasebenzi basemtholampilo bababuza ukuthi abenzi ngani i-sterilization, okuhhuhlelo lokusiza abesifazane ukuthi bangabe besakhulelwa.
Lolucwaningo ludlulele ezweni lase-Zimbabwe lapho lubheke khona ukuphila kwabesifazane abanokukhubazeka. Kunowesifazane igamalakhe elingadalulwanga ophila nokukhubazeka ohlala nabantwana bakhe ababili. Abacwaningi bathe uma bekhuluma naye bathola ukuthi uthi bobabili abantwana bakhe wabathola ngokuhlukunyezwa ngokocansi umlisa mumbe owayemazi. Lomlisa wacela ukumphelezela naye wavuma kodwa endleleni wayesemjikela wamudlwengula. Kwathi emva kwesikhathi uma ethola ukuthi ukhulelwe, wahamba wayotshela lomlisa kodwa lomlisa wavele wabaleka. Akabanga esamazi ukuthi washona ngaphi.
Kwaze kwafika isikhathi sokuthi abelethe ubaba womntwana engaziwa ukuthi washonaphi. Wathola umntwana womfana naye enokukhubazeka emilenzeni. Umlisa lo owayemdlwengulile wabuya futhi empilweni yakhe. Waphinda futhi wamdlwengula, wathi uma emtshela ukuthi ukhulelwe futhi, wabaleka futhi. Kwamphoqa lokho ukuthi akazame ukuthola indlela yokuziphilisa yena nabantwana bakhe. Lokhu kugcizelela lokhu okutholwe ucwaningo lwaseThekwini ukuthi abantu besifazane abaphila nokukhubazeka baba yizisulu zabantu besilisa abangakhubazekile zokuzithokozisa ngokocansi kodwa bebalekele umthwalo uma kubakhona ingane.
Abantu besifazane abaphila nokukhubazeka baba yizisulu zokuhlukunyezwa emoyeni nangokomzimba ngenxayokukhubazeka. Nabesilisa abaphila nokukhubazeka bayabacwasa. Omunye uze walibeka ngembaba wathi, “Ngingamenzani umuntu wesifazane okhubazekile, ngingcono kunaye ngoba ngiyindoda noma nami ngikhubazekile.” Lenkulumo iveza ngokusobala ukuthi indaba yokuthuliswa kwabantubesifazane ijulile kakhulu ngoba iqala emphakathini bese idlula kanjalo kugcine sekuyindlela yokuphila.
Konke lokhu kusitshela kabanzi ngezingqinamba ezibhekana nabesifazane abaphila nokukhubazeka futhi kusishiya nezinselelo eziningi zokufundisa abantu bakuleli ukuthi abantu abaphila nokukhubazeka nabo bangabantu futhi banengqondo yokuzicabangela futhi banezidingo zezocansi njengabo bonke abantu abaphilayo.