Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Year On, and Still No Justice for Daughter Mozambique Independence Leader
Poloko Tau
South African City Press
2016-09-27 16:25

Former first lady Graça Machel and her daughter Josina are highlighting the scourge of gender-based violence. Picture: Leon Sadiki

After Nelson Mandela died, his widow, Graça Machel, had hoped for a time of peace and healing, but last year another tragedy struck. On October 17 – her 70th birthday – Machel received news from her home country, Mozambique, that her daughter Josina (40) had sustained serious injuries to her eye after she was allegedly battered by her partner, a Mozambican businessman.

Machel later learnt that her first-born child had lost vision permanently in her right eye.

“I have seen Madiba lying there suffering, going slowly ... and [after he died] I thought it was time for me to lick my wounds and be in peace, but this happened. I asked myself, ‘Why does it have to be us?’ There has to be a reason.”

South Africa’s former first lady and her daughter recounted their horrific experience to City Press this week. Giving Josina’s hand a gentle squeeze, Machel said: “I treasure and cherish my child. She is a precious gift ... She made me experience what motherhood is all about and I brought her up mostly on my own after her father [former president of Mozambique Samora Machel] died when she was only 10. Now someone thinks he can just raise a hand to her.

“Raising a hand against my child is one offence I do not think I can forgive anyone for,” Machel said.

She watched with great admiration as Josina told City Press that after the trauma she suffered, she was motivated to take action against gender-based violence by initiating an advocacy organisation, Kuhluka Movement.

“The organisation focuses on building and improving shelters for survivors of domestic violence,” said Josina, adding that despite her ordeal, she thought that what happened to her was probably meant to help her “understand exactly what other women are going through and do something about it”.

Josina’s approach to life has brought some comfort to her mother. “I am very proud of her. This whole thing is much bigger than her. It is good that she took the decision to talk about it,” she said.

“She could have just kept it to herself, but she summoned up the courage to say, ‘It happened to me.’ She has chosen to share her pain with millions of other women and say, ‘We have a life to live.’

“There are those who are keeping quiet, but Zina [as Machel fondly calls her] went out and said, ‘Let us talk about our pain and fight this scourge of gender violence.’”

Machel said she had not met the man who allegedly assaulted her daughter.

“Zina was very cautious and kept postponing every opportunity to introduce him to me ... I caught a glimpse of him once,” Machel said, adding that the attitude displayed by the alleged assailant was hurtful.

“He denies everything. He claims that Zina got injured after she fell, but even a doctor in Barcelona looked at her eye and said this was from a massive blow.

“I do not want to say he is a monster, but he is,” she said.

Josina said almost a year later, the man was yet to be tried in a Mozambican court, calling this “justice delayed”.

To add to her stress, she approached the Randburg Magistrates’ Court in Gauteng earlier this month, seeking a protection order after her alleged attacker started calling her.

“I felt as if I was being stalked and became fearful for my safety and that of my children,” said Josina.

“The only thing that can keep him away is the protection order. Three weeks later, I am still waiting without having received it.

“I have been to court three times already, and on Monday I spent at least four hours there with my mother, only to be told that the court was not convinced enough to grant me the protection order,” she said.

Machel reiterated her daughter’s disappointment. “Courts are failing women who are victims of gender violence. These cases are not treated with the sensitivity they deserve. The court told us there is not enough evidence and that he is a first-time offender.

“For us it sounds like the court is saying, ‘She has to get more beatings from this man before she can get any protection.’ It seems as if the justice system is saying, ‘Go back for more; get maimed and only then we can talk.’

“We are not doing all this in pursuit of special attention because Josina is Samora Machel’s daughter and Mandela’s stepdaughter; it is about many other women out there who are going through the same experience,” said Machel.

“I understand now why some women die while waiting for justice. They are sent back home without protection,” she said.

After undergoing this ordeal with her daughter, Machel said she understood why the unfortunate incident had “fallen on my family’s lap”.

“I am speaking for all daughters who have been through this ... It had to hit me in such a way that I had to reach all other daughters out there,” she said, adding that she would use every platform available to her to raise awareness of the challenges faced by victims of gender violence.

Machel is part of The Elders, a group of independent and venerable world leaders brought together by her late husband, Madiba. They include former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, former US president Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

Former First Lady of Two African Nations, Graça Machel Launches New Women’s Network

Digital Editor  Sep 26, 2016
By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

In an effort to transform the narrative and negative perceptions of African women and children, Graça Machel, the former first lady of two African nations, recently established a first of its kind Pan African Women in Media Network(WIMN).

The network of women journalists will work in conjunction with the Graça Machel Trust.

“The Graça Machel Trust’s women’s rights program is based on our aim to multiply the faces and amplify the voices of women, especially in areas where they are underrepresented,” said Machel, who is also the founder of the Foundation for Community Development in Mozambique. “Through our women’s networks in agribusiness, finance and ‘Women Creating Wealth,’ we foster links and build a critical mass of highly-qualified and active women across sectors and professions who can work collectively to influence, shape and drive the socio-economic policies to ensure that they achieve economic prosperity and social change.”

The Graça Machel Trust works across the African continent to amplify women’s movements, influence governance, and advocate for the protection of children’s rights and dignity.

The Trust consolidates the work of Machel and seeks to build on her legacy by inspiring the younger generation to take up new challenges and create societies that value and care about social justice.

Machel noted that the primary mission is to amplify the voices of women’s movements, influence governance and promote women’s leadership and contributions in the economic, social, and political development of Africa.

The Trust also advocates for the protection of children’s rights and dignity.

Recognizing the crucial role that media plays in shaping societal attitudes, Machel said it’s important that women are at the center of transformation within the media landscape.

The new network has also gained the support of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the Black Press that’s comprised of approximately 208 African-American owned newspapers across the United States.

“The National Newspaper Publishers Association supports and salutes the Graça Machel Trust that effectively empowers African women. When African women are empowered, it results in advancing all African people throughout the world,” said Dr. Benjamin Chavis, the president and CEO of the NNPA.

“The Diamond Empowerment Fund, co-founded by Russell Simmons, me and others also recognizes the extraordinary global leadership of Graca Machel and the Graca Machel Trust. I vividly remember meeting Graça Machel at her home in Maputo, Mozambique along with her husband South Africa President Nelson Mandela and my colleague Russell Simmons in 2006.”

Chavis continued: “We discussed the ongoing struggle and movement to transform Africa for progress and the liberation of all who stand for freedom and equality.”

Prior to her marriage to Mandela, Machel was the wife of Mozambique President Samora Machel. She also served for more than a decade as that country’s minister of education and culture.

Machel said that WIMN will drive coordinated messaging and build awareness on issues related to health, education, and women’s economic empowerment, which will have a positive effect on women and children.

“Given the influential role that media plays in shaping societal attitudes, the network seeks to change the present narrative of women that presents them as powerless victims and ignores the many positive stories and successes,” Machel added. “When economically empowered, women take control of their lives, set their own agendas, provide solutions to their problems and challenges, and develop self-reliance.”

Machal added: “To build a strong and equitable future for all Africans, we acknowledge the fundamental contribution of women and ensure that we create a supportive and enabling environment where they are able to fully participate and benefit.”

The network will also create an inter-generational platform to allow young talented female journalists to participate and work alongside the continent’s more seasoned veterans. WIMN will comprise an initial group of about 30 to 40 women journalists, bloggers and influencers, officials said in a statement.

“Women and children’s issues have tended to make headlines more as victims that are helpless, abused and exploited yet women and children have, over time, been capable of so much more, having overcome many obstacles and excelled in many sectors of the economy and society,” said WIMN board co-chair Susan Makore. “The amazing stories need to find more expression in our media. Therefore, I hope to do my part in ensuring that key stories that highlight and celebrate the various facets of children and women’s activities across all sectors are given prominence in the media by working with my colleagues that run media houses, especially in Zimbabwe where I hail from.”

Bronwyn Nielsen, the co-chair of the WIMN advisory board, said that Africa’s youth and female dividends are at the core of the continent’s future and, with the right support.

“It is a fact the women and children who can positively impact the future from an economic growth and development perspective,” said Nielsen. “I look forward to working with my fellow board members and all the members of this privileged network to jointly leverage our circles of influence under the esteemed guidance of Mrs. Machel to drive this agenda deep across the continent with both speed and passion.”

Nielsen continued: “Together we can create a new narrative when it comes to Africa’s women and children.”

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