Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sex as entitlement, sex as power?

A man…stabbed his wife in the neck because she would not have sex with him and then proceeded to have sex with the bloodied woman…”

In a previous blog post earlier this month (see below, The Politics of Violence Against Women: A South African Perspective, posted Thursday 2nd February), I wrote about how the daily experience of inequality by women and the violence perpetrated against women by men continue unabated in South Africa. “Because of our patriarchal system, power is in the hands of men. Women do not have much say in decision-making, societal issues, and even more sadly, in their intimate relationships. Men control their sexual rights. Women cannot choose when, how and with whom they can have sex” (Memela, 2005, p.98).

As if drawing a line under the issues highlighted in that post, an article in one of our local papers today offers an all-too real and tragic example of the cultural belief that sex is a man’s right and a woman’s obligation – and of the violent consequences of women’s refusal to submit: “…the couple had quarreled that evening because the accused wanted to have sex and his wife did not. The two eventually went to bed and the argument continued. The husband then went to the kitchen, fetched a knife and stabbed his wife.”

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