Crime and domestic violence are two issues which continue to feature heavily in our local news and seem to have become an unsavoury aspect of our culture. Although we can lay much of the blame for our inadequate incomes and depressed welfares on poor government policies, as a society, we also help to contribute to the social and economic hardships we face. In economics, the responsible group is that of “households”.
A cursory examination of the news reveals that households are often plagued by domestic problems which very often result in broken homes and offspring who generally mature into adults without the essential social skills necessary as a successful partner and parent. But what is the best and most efficient household? Unsurprisingly, the best and most efficient household is one which at the very least comprises both parents who understand and fulfil their roles and responsibilities in their home and to their children.
One of the things that we would admit is that our culture, which includes our social activities, the music, artistes and ‘stars’ we listen to and in many cases unintentionally emulate, very often do not celebrate the virtues of social behaviours and traits which yield successful adults and promote the survivability of households. Worse, quite a few of these stars overtly support gangsterism and disrespect, violence towards and abuse of women, and casual relations. These stars have become the individuals who influence us most regarding our social interactions and ‘condition’ our thinking into our ‘societal norms,’ what is acceptable, so that disrespect, violence towards and abuse of women becomes acceptable, even to our women, who often suffer the consequences of their participation at these social events.
Addressing crime and domestic violence, which are the roots of the failure of many of our households, therefore, needs to be addressed by broader society, particularly those who are most affected. Young women in particular need to avoid being conned by the first, or any other ‘I love you.’ Also, they might want to steer clear from individuals who do not display any sense of responsibility, or have overly aggressive tendencies. They might say it’s okay, but it’s not. Women need to recognise the crucial role they have in protecting themselves from violence and abuse. They need to start by demanding long-term commitments from males as social partners.
For their part, men need to recognise that their social relations with women, the disrespect, violence and abuse they mete out to women, are largely due to their exposure to, and acculturalisation by much of the music and (anti)social activities in which they engage. Our menfolk need to recognise also that such attitudes are condescending, predatory and negative, and impact on their behaviour at home. Further, men need to recognise their roles and responsibilities in their homes, to their wives, and to their children, and ensure that everything they do is geared towards ensuring the survival of their homes and ultimate success of their children in growing into responsible men who do not abuse and misuse women, and who as women, know what to ask for, and will not tolerate disrespect, violence and abuse from men.
Men who have been disadvantaged by society because of inadequate education necessary to secure a regular job, and who consider crime as a means of earning money should reconsider this notion. Individuals who are unwilling to work for depressed incomes and who consider such a great risk as crime are encouraged to reflect that they are confronting the basic reality of survival. This is courageous and should be applauded, but it is advisable that such desperation should best be channelled into the challenge of looking for work in other areas in the country such as the interior. Here the risks are very often matched by the rewards, provided they ensure that they do not get caught working for the occasional plundering ‘boss’.
Our institutions, particularly NGOs, Government social services and media organisations, need to actively develop programmes which educate and inform society about costs of embracing violence, abuse and other unhealthy attitudes towards women encouraged by some of our popular artistes. Social services could consider regulatory mechanisms (imposition of stiff taxes, for example) which eliminate content which even subliminally advocates violence and abuse of women, from our society.
Among the groups of persons who will object to such policies on the basis of ‘freedom of expression’ would probably be the promoters and businesses who make hundreds of millions every year from these events. However, freedom of expression does not extend to incitation and promotion of violence and abuse against women, or any group or segment of society, for that matter. Finally, women should stop allowing themselves to be used to promote social events which encourage disrespect, violence and abuse towards themselves.