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Posts Tagged ‘megan ellis’

Well hello there!

It has definitely been a while.

So where have I been you may ask? Well, my blogging became very infrequent due to illness and when I did post, it was to News24 Voices.

Now that I work for a media company, it would be a conflict of interest to post opinion pieces on a competitor’s site. So I’ve come back to this neck of the woods to return to blogging.

I will be uploading the pieces I did on News24 (as we are allowed to do that) over the next few days and then begin posting new content.

Hopefully I will be able to inform, entertain and provoke thought once again.

If you’re curious about my health, you can check out my fibromyalgia blog Ageing Ungracefully.

Otherwise you can look forward to me posting about news and politics right here 🙂

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“You strike a woman, you strike a rock” – the famous quote from the 1956 women’s march on the Union Buildings.

Apparently, many took that quote to mean you can therefore strike a woman over and over again.

(more…)

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This is my column which appeared in Activate Student Newspaper’s 65th birthday edition. It’s about the painting entitled ‘The Spear’ which was part of a gallery exhibition criticising the ANC’s politics. The specific painting depicted Jacob Zuma with his penis showing. The painting has since been defaced and removed. 
 
Once again Jacob Zuma’s penis was the subject of headlines across the country– except this time, instead of siring another child out of wedlock, it was the central image in an artwork.
Zuma said that the painting infringed on his right to dignity.
He’s probably right – but who is he to talk about denying people their dignity? Thousands sacrifice their dignity when crapping in a bucket, which is considered a legitimate system of waste management. Those who resort to begging sacrifice their dignity because their situation feels so hopeless.
As a nation, we have lost our dignity because our leaders mock us with empty promises and insult us with their flagrant disregard for everything the struggle stood for – changing South Africa for the better and giving freedom to everyone. Instead, our country is being looted by corrupt leaders who seem to think that their theft from the public doesn’t come with a body count.
The political discourse between our politicians is descending into nothing more than name-calling and finger-pointing, while we are expected to look to them to lead SA to prosperity.
Then again, now that Malema has been tossed aside, the government needs to find some other sensation to distract us from the real issues – corruption,poverty, crime and their inability to fulfil the promises which won them the election.Maybe the entire hubbub over this painting is meant to distract the media from the fact that the investigation into corruption charges against Zuma may be re-launched, while at the same time Zuma is interfering with court appointments. He also has the sheer arrogance to suggest that the Constitutional Court’s powers should be revised – insulting our intelligence with claims that it is anything but attempting to protect his own interests.

Then again, the only things the government ever seems to do with any efficiency of late is to protect Zuma’s interests. Malema could spread hate and lies all he wanted, but the moment he slandered our dear president he was expelled from the party with the same speed at which Mbeki was ousted.

Zuma can charge a man with assault for spilling a drink on him and have a speedy trial, but a rapist recently got off scot-free because our legislation regarding charges for various types of sexual assault is so flawed.
I’m sure Zuma’s dignity will soon be restored – but he will never restore the respect so many South Africans have lost for him. He conned a nation into believing he would bring change to the party and to our economy.Instead he brought threats to media freedom and disgrace to a country which fought so hard for the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

 

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Social networks and news sites were taken by storm this week when the story of a gang rape video went viral. People expressed disgust, shock and concern about South African society.

However, the reality is that while this incident caught international attention, rape and gang rape occurs on a daily basis in South Africa. Some were shocked at the fact that people watched the video, and while I, too, find this disturbing, the truth is that many people have a morbid fascination with taboo and violence. Many of us are unsettled by pictures of the Holocaust and Vietnam, and news media often spreads scenes of violence to shock their viewers.

We are fascinated by what is shocking, but I feel that it goes deeper than this. What I found most disturbing is that the rapists felt the need to record and distribute the girl’s pain and terror for the world to see. It’s reported they laughed at her and taunted her, offering her R2 for her silence. The thought of this scene makes me nauseous, but it also brings to the fore that this is happening– unrecorded and unheard of – to countless others.

I think that once this case is over and the perpetrators have been prosecuted, the issue will slip under the radar once again, only to be dug up again in the occasional feature on the prevalence of rape in our country or for an exceptionally shocking or violent case.

What saddens me most is that these incidents are nowhere close to ending. It is no coincidence that South Africa is both the most unequal society in the world and also considered the rape capital of the world. While it is inexcusable to rape anyone, poverty plays a massive role in violent crime.

People are forced to live in terrible conditions on a mass scale where a cycle of violence, cruelty and anger is perpetuated and alcohol and drugs are used as an escape. Rape is often about power, and in a patriarchal society women and children (and men who are perceived as ‘weaker’) bear the brunt of this anger and frustration.

This is where I look to the government in anger – because of corruption and fiscal irresponsibility; people continue to live in poverty. The government doesn’t do much to dispel myths in rape culture either. Remember Malema’s comment about rape? “When a woman didn’t enjoy it, she leaves early in the morning. Those who had a nice time will wait until the sun comes out, request breakfast and ask for taxi money.”

With ideas like this being spouted by those whom we are supposed to respect and follow, is it so shocking that therapists in the video taunted the girl with an offer of R2 for her silence? If we want to see a real change in South African society, our government needs to fulfil its promises and help alleviate the poverty which perpetuates crimes like these, so that these horrific scenes no longer constitute ‘just another day’ in South Africa.

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Every week I get an e-mail from Avaaz, asking me to sign a petition against some new injustice. This week, I watched social networks explode in support  of the Kony 2012 campaign. Activists continue to protest for human rights.

This has become the norm – people need to unite in order to get governments to act on critical issues. But my question is, why? Why do we need to pressure our leaders to do what is right? Why do we have to revive their moral compass?

Why is Kony 2012 even a valid campaign? The LRA which have committed mass rapes, abductions and a series of other war crimes for over two decades – why does it take a few first world people to put pressure on governments to act, when the moral imperative to act has existed all along?

I have to ask myself when ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ stopped being the underpinning of democracy. In 1996, the new Constitution of South Africa sought to be our moral compass – existing outside the limitations of our prejudices and views. It gave everyone the right to life in circumstances in which many of us would have called for the death penalty. It gave equality and rights to everyone, not only the majority. It was made in a time of idealism, when people and our leaders thought things could be different – that they had to be different.

Nowadays, we have to protest our government trying to change the Constitutional Court’s power. A 30-minute video on Kony illicits more response from leaders than the simple fact that the LRA’s crimes are a crime against humanity as a whole – in that they degrade our entire species with their cruelty and inhumanity.

Wars are not waged in the public interest, but rather for profit. During WWII, people rallied to stop the Nazis, not because they were conscripted, but because they believed in their cause. And while the world still has numerous groups which commit atrocities as those seen in WWII, wars are waged for oil and commercial interest rather than to stop these atrocities.

I know morals change from generation to generation, but the idea that people should not be subjected to such cruelty is one which pervails, and which the average human being would agree to. Why then must we force our governments to care about these issues? They too are part of humanity.

I may seem idealistic regarding what I think a government should be, but it’s a sad truth that ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ is now notion rather than a reality. Maybe we need to consider just who we are electing and if they really do represent our interests.

Our leaders are in dire need of a reconnection with their sense of humanity.

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