Thursday, December 20, 2007


SUTRA™ believes that the South African Indian community has for far too long, neglected to acknowledge the reality of Gender Based Violence. We believe that this is an issue that we as a community need to address with the highest priority. South Africa’s women and children need to be sheltered from all forms of harm, and we need to work together to ensure that this is a certainty. SUTRA™ Magazine consults with Lifeline Southern Africa on gender based violence.

How does a woman know when she is in a violent relationship?
When people talk about “domestic violence”, they usually see it as violence in the home. But, it is more than this. The definition of a “domestic relationship” includes relationships wherein two people are dating, are separated or divorced, and includes same-sex relationships.Most people also believe that domestic violence is physical violence. However, there are other types of abuse. Physical abuse includes things like slapping, hitting, shoving, stabbing, burning. There is emotional abuse, which includes things like swearing at her, threats, isolating her from family and friends. Sexual abuse includes rape, indecent assault, making her wear clothes or do sexual acts that make her feel uncomfortable.

When is it too late to get out of a violent relationship?
It is never too late to get out of an abusive relationship. The minute you start feeling uncomfortable in the relationship or feel that your partner’s treatment of you has changed (in a negative way e.g. He has become very possessive); this is the time to take a hard look at your relationship, and try and identify what is different. This may be the time to seek help or decide to end the relationship.

Is it a wifes duty to provide her husband with his conjugal rights?
On the Stop Gender Violence Helpline, the counselors get this comment a lot. We use this as an opportunity to educate these callers on their rights. Nobody has the right to abuse another. However, an abusive partner will often use this statement as an excuse for his behaviour. In actual fact, he is committing sexual abuse when he forces his partner to have sex with him, when she does not feel like it or does not consent.

Does ‘marital rape’ exist?
Yes, this is a legal term and recognized as a crime in South Africa – she can lay a charge of marital rape against him if he forces her to have sex without her consent.No man may force his wife to have sex with him against her will.

What do I do if I am in an abusive relationship and have children?
An abused woman with children needs to know what sort of effect abuse, or even just witnessing the abuse between parents, may have on the child. These parents are setting an example for their children, and are teaching these children how to treat other people. If a boy sees his father abusing his mother, he will learn that this is the way a woman should be treated. This then creates a cycle of violence that regenerates from one generation to another. The only way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to break this cycle.

So, Parents who say that they never fight in front of their children could also be traumatizing their children?
Yes, children are perceptive. They may not be seeing the abuse because they are in another room, but they can hear what is going on, see the physical signs (e.g. their mother’s bruised face) and they can sense the tension and anger in the air. Some signs that the child is traumatized could be: acting out the behaviour that he/she has seen his/her parents exhibiting; bedwetting and nightmares; shouting at the mother; fear and anxiety; social isolation.

For more information, and assistance contact Lifeline Southern Africa on 0800-150-150.

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