exploring the concerns of the south african jewish community
Drawing on the concept of 'alienation in language', Bryan Opert argues that to effectively engage with gender-based violence, interventions and rhetoric must reflect the specific challenges faced by the Jewish community
ADDRESSING the “surge” in gender-based violence and femicide since level 3 lockdown began in mid-July, President Cyril Ramaphosa recently announced three bills aimed at “help[ing] to restore the confidence of our country’s women that the law is indeed there to protect them”. The 2019/20 crime statistics, which were released on the 31 July, do not include this “surge” as the statistics don’t cover this period. Considering that the crime statistics already indicated a 1.7% increase in both sexual offences and rape, and a 0.6% rise in common assault against women, it is understandable that many would feel that the authorities have been ineffective in protecting victims of gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa.
In 2012, in response to “the rising incidence of sexual and other forms of abuse in the Jewish Community”, Koleinu SA – a helpline for victims of abuse in the Jewish community – was established. Wendy Hendler, co-founder and board member of Koleinu SA, explains: “globally, we know that statistics of GBV within Jewish communities reflect those of the country in which the community is located. This, however, excludes South Africa with its horrific GBV statistics”. Hendler goes on, “while Koleinu SA has dealt with sexual assault, rape and date rape cases, the majority of cases from within the Jewish community are comprised of emotional, verbal, financial and religious abuse”.
"... when a young male from our community reads an article about GBV does he believe that it is personally relevant to him, or is it as foreign as world hunger? "