The National Union of Metal Workers (Numsa) says working-class women are under siege and they are not safe anywhere in this country.

“Recently, we have been besieged by reports of shocking attacks against women. South African women are living in a war zone, and it seems the authorities are paralysed to stop it,” said Numsa’s second deputy president Puleng Phaka.

The union expressed shock over the recent high-profile gender-based violence affecting women in the country.

The most recent is the mass gang rape that took place in an abandoned mine shaft in Krugersdorp.

The women were apparently shooting a music video when an armed gang of men approached them at gunpoint, robbed them of their personal belongings and raped them multiple times.

Police have arrested 82 men in connection with various crimes illegal mining, possession of explosives and firearms, attempted murder and other charges.

But so far, none of the suspects arrested after the Krugersdorp gang rape attack has yet been positively linked to the crime.

The police are still doing DNA tests to see if they are connected to the rapes in any way.

A week before that horrific incident, the community of Kalksteelfontein in the Western Cape protested outside the Bishop Lavis Magistrates court over the murders of Daffidol Faro, aged 65 and Aseeqah Erasmus, her 10-year-old niece.

They were murdered allegedly by Faro’s son, Ashley – in their home. It is alleged that Daffidol had gone to court numerous times to get a protection order against her son because he was violent.

But, she was unsuccessful and was never granted one.

“She was murdered by the very person she hoped to be protected from. The courts failed her and her 10-year-old niece,” said Phaka.

Rape cases increased 13.7% to 10,818, That’s an increase of 1,300 cases.

“This is abnormal! Women in this country are under siege, and we need radical interventions to be implemented to keep women safe.”

Women suffering linked to capitalist system

Numsa is of the view that women’s suffering cannot be isolated from the crisis of the capitalist system.

“The brutality that we are seeing, where there are increased levels of violence, are all examples of the failure of capitalism,” insists Phaka.

“Capitalism has failed to guarantee equality between the sexes.”

Phala said the capitalist system reinforced the false idea that women are inferior. “Capitalism strips women of their humanity and reduces them to objects of exploitation, degradation and violence.”

Since its inception, capitalism has generated profits by exploiting and undervaluing workers’ contributions, significantly affecting women in the workplace to a greater degree than men.

This gender discrepancy directly affects women’s economic status by justifying underpaying women and excluding them from higher-paying positions.

It also leaves them vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and violence.

“Capitalism prioritises the safety and well-being of the rich against that of the poor. For years communities have complained about armed gangs operating in abandoned mine shafts, and for years they had been ignored,” explained Phaka.

“That’s because the state, and all its machinery, including state security, are used to benefit the rich, and it is not used to assist the poor and the working class.”

What is to be done?

Numsa supports the demands for increased funding for shelters, community-based services, greater mental health interventions, and increased economic support for victims of abuse and sexual violence.

“We support demands to eradicate income inequality between the sexes, and we will continue to fight this battle in workplaces all over the country.”

Numsa also support calls for increased policing in our communities so that ordinary women can feel safer. We demand that those who are arrested for crimes of a sexual nature must not be granted bail.

“The reforms we are calling for are temporary and will offer only short-term relief.

If we want a permanent end to the suffering of women, we must also fight for the destruction of the capitalist system,” concluded Phaka.

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By editor