by Pamela Maringa

Every human person is created in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, every person’s life and dignity must be respected. We are called to protect all God’s creation.

I woke up this morning. A young woman living in Soweto. I had my day planned and I was excited about this new day. Just like any other person living in South Africa, I turned my radio on and all I heard were reports of the brutal killings of young women and children in my township. Thoughts of fear rushed to my mind as I asked myself, “Will I make it back home safely today?” This is what most South Africa women have to deal with in their everyday lives, the fear of crime and violence.

Young women and children continue to disappear from our communities every day. Recently four bodies were discovered in Soweto. A 22-year-old pregnant women was raped by 11 men. There have been more than 20 cases of gender based violence reported since January of this year. In most of these cases, women were killed and raped by their boyfriends and people close to them.

I think I am speaking for many women in the country when I say that it is no longer safe to live in South Africa. The men in my own country have turned out to be monsters. What has become of the man who used to seek to protect his family? The hands that once made us feel warm and safe are the same hands that are killing us today. Today we do not trust that our fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, friends, teachers and boyfriends will not harm us.

While the country focuses on President Zuma and his corruption, there are other serious matters that need equal attention. I have lost count of the marches that took place after the cabinet reshuffle last month. All political parties and people from all racial backgrounds took part in the marches across the country. Now young women are dying and the same attention is not being given to this very serious situation. There have been no serious measures taken to fight gender based violence. Gender based violence and crimes are often the result of the abuse of drugs and alcohol, another issue that needs to be urgently addressed.

Has our country forgotten about the importance of life? Have the issues of money and cabinet “reshuffle” become more important than human life? Our country needs to stand in solidarity and fight for the rights, dignity and protection of women. Our society needs to do away with its patriarchal state of mind that puts women at risk of being victims of crimes. Young men need role models that will influence them positively. No one has a right to take another’s life. The role of a man should be to protect the dignity of a woman, not kill her. Mothers also have to teach their sons that women should be respected and treated with dignity.

The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things.

Parents must be aware that the way they are raising their sons is of utmost important – they are actually raising someone’s husband and someone’s father. My question is: If you were to marry your son, would you?