Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is the latest politician to victim-blame abused women

ANC presidential hopeful, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is the latest to join the long list of politicians who have said questionable things about gender-based violence. We had Susan Shabangu, Minister of Women (!!!) calling Karabo Mokoena ‘weak’ and then Police Minister Fikile Mbalula blamed alcohol for deputy minister Mduduzi Manana’s assault of Mandisa Duma.  The Daily Vox team rounds up the recent spell of misogyny.

At yesterday’s African Women Chartered Accountants Woman of Substance awards, Dlamini-Zuma spoke about the African Union and Agenda 2063. She emphasised the important role that women have to play in growing the economy.

All good and well, but then, she couldn’t help but be hella problematic and throw in some archaic gender roles and victim blaming proving once again how unfeminist the women of the ANC Women’s league truly are.

First, she said the primary role of women in Africa must still remains childbearing.

Yaas, that’s all we’re good for, right?

Talking about the role of women on the continent, Dlamini-Zuma said that women should take action when they are in an abusive relationship.

She said women should not accept violence against them and should stand up.

Ah, if only it were that easy. According to statistics, most abused women are killed after leaving their abusers, making it that more dangerous to try and leave.

As we paid lip service on Women’s Day, a Khayelitsha woman, Aviwe Jam Jam’s body was found after she was allegedly killed by her abusive boyfriend – who she tried to escape from.

We’re not surprised. Dlamini-Zuma has been making problematic statements about gender-based violence. Twitter dragged her on Monday after a thread where she “gravely” condemned violence against women. In one of her tweets she said “If you don’t like what someone is saying, you must walk away and not act violently.” Another said, “Abuse can start with a beating and often escalates to killing.”

Once again, Dlamini-Zuma falls into the trap of victim blaming. We cannot deny that women have agency but lumping all responsibility on women to walk away from abusive relationships shows how little she knows about the way these relationships, and toxic masculinity, work. Often emotional abuse starts way before “a beating” and this can be just as traumatic as physical abuse. Emotional abuse becomes a barrier which stops women from leaving toxic relationships.  To name a few, women are made to believe that it’s their fault, they are guilted and blackmailed into remaining in the relationship, they are often trapped in their partner’s cycle of good and bad behaviour – while he keeps promising to change and all the while their self-worth is bulldozed. Let’s not even get into the reality facing so many women today – economic dependence on their partners means leaving leads to destitution.

It’s just not as simple as leaving and neglecting to acknowledge emotional abuse shows her lack of understanding of abusive relationships.

And despite how vocal Dlamini-Zuma might have been about violence against women, we are still waiting for her to condemn Mduduzi Manana’s horrific public assault of a woman in a club last week.

Reporting by Fatima Moosa and Shaazia Ebrahim

Featured image via Flickr