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Type Women's Hearings
Starting Date 29 July 1997
Names CALS SUBMISSION - DR SHEILA MEINTJIES
MS SOOKA: ... stand or sit, whichever is more comfortable for you.
CHAIRPERSON: May you all be seated. I would like to welcome you all to this second day of our human rights violations hearings specifically focusing on women's experiences of human rights violations between the years 1960 and 1994. As it is the procedure within the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, women are making statements today. We sit here not as a victim finding panel, but all the statements will be processed, will be sent through to the Investigative Unit and we will corroborate whatever information, who will corroborate whatever information has been given before us. The Research Department will look at the information as well and ultimately a decision will be made in a victim finding meeting.
Today we have special submissions. We have a submission from CALS which will be presented by Dr Sheila Meintjies and we have individual hearings of people talking about their own experiences of human rights violations and also we will have another submission which will give a different perspective of women's involvement in the struggle towards liberation of this country. I would ask Dr Sheila Meintjies to come forward please.
If I may just say something about Sheila Meintjies besides being introduced as Dr Sheila Meintjies. She is a lecturer at Wits University, but she is known and, to most of us as a person who is deeply involved and concerned about women's experiences. She has been involved in different forums whereby she has made submissions on gender. So she was one of the first people when we were appointed as a Commission, who made a submission to us highlighting women's specific experiences. So we felt it will be appropriate to have her here to share with this audience and in support of witnesses to continue her agenda on women's issues. So, welcome Sheila.
DR MEINTJIES: Thank you very much and thank you for this opportunity for us to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in this Women's Hearing. We have already addressed the TRC in previous, in a previous session and what I am going to be doing in this, they want to turn us around.
CHAIRPERSON: They are trying to position the table in such a way that the media can access her while she is talking. What might be helpful, most of you might have to move and sit over that side depending on where they ultimately. I am sorry for the confusion, but I should think after this we will be better positioned. Okay, I will ask Dr Sheila Meintjies to go ahead please.
DR MEINTJIES: Thank you very much. First of all I would like to say that I am here on behalf of a wider group including individual trauma counsellors and psychologists and the Gender Research Project of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies and members of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation. We have been meeting consistently over the last 18 months in a group which we call Gender and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We submitted an earlier submission in August 1997 although the TRC received it in May.
We emphasised in that submission the different experience of men and women during the apartheid era. In particular we pointed to the significance of gender interwoven with race and class as an important category in determining this experience. These and other efforts of women to highlight the particularity of women's experience led the TRC to hold separate women's hearings and we commend this very important process. Now we do not wish to cover all the same ground which is detailed in our submission although there are particular aspects of gender that we would like to highlight.
We want to emphasise that men and women experienced sexual torture, electric shocks to genitals and to women's breasts were commonplace, for instance. We also want to point to an issue which was of concern to us more than a year ago and remains a key problem in our view. We suggested that the issue of sexual violence, in particular, was one which women found and still find very difficult to speak out about or even to admit that it happened. Indeed, we know that very few women have, in fact, come forward to recount their experience of sexual abuse in the context of political violence. Of nearly 9000 cases of violations only about nine have claimed they have been raped. Yet, in our research we came across many cases of violations which could be described as rape or where women knew of others who had been raped.
In one case a rat had been pushed up a woman's vagina and the detainee, Elaine Muhammad, who described this case said that she always felt that the rats were gnawing at her. In her account, which she gave to Diana Russell and which is, in fact, published she described how sexual terrorism was used to instill fear into her while she was in detention. Her humiliation was used as a tactic to undermine her sense of self and her integrity as a human being and as a woman. She was body searched, she was forced to stand astride and do star jumps naked. She described how the District Surgeon put his forearm between her legs and fondled her buttocks and made her walk across the room naked when he was examining her. This, a medical professional, who was supposed to be maintaining the highest ethics.
In the 1980's FEDTRAW, the Federation of Transvaal Women, described the violation of women and girls during States of Emergencies. Now, we could describe these in detail, they are described in great detail in our submission. I do not know whether you would like me to spell this out here. You would like me to go into some detail about some of the events which happened. Now, in our submission what we do is we describe a whole range of human rights violations. We describe and try to place in context an understanding of gender and political violence. In this context, what we do is to discuss the issue of women as direct and indirect victims of apartheid and we show how, as indirect victims, their experience as wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, the experience of hardship, the loss of loved ones, economic and cultural loss which they sustained as a result of their partners, fathers, etc, being removed into prison or, in fact, being killed. We discuss, also, the constructions of gender in prisons, we discuss the ways in which women experienced torture, in a particular way in which their sexuality was used to undermine their sense of integrity and their sense of self and I can draw attention to some of the points that we make.
We talk of physical methods of torture which include assault, electric shocks on pregnant women, inadequate medical care leading to miscarriages, we talk of teargassing, of solitary confinement, of body searches and vaginal examinations, we talk of rape and forced intercourse with other prisoners, foreign objects, including rats, being pushed into women's vaginas. Jessie Dwate, Nombula Mokonyana spoke of incidents where women's fallopian tubes were flooded with water, sometimes resulting in the ability of, inability of those women to have children. These forms of cruelty were not simply experienced by women, but also by children. During the States of Emergency girls as young as 14 were detained, tortured, beaten and teargassed.
We offer a comparative dimension in looking at similar experiences in Latin America during the 1960's and 1970's and we try to draw parallels of that experience in trying to explain where this kind of treatment comes from and, although in this, in our submission we do not look at the issue of male prisoners, we show that, in fact, men probably experienced very similar things and different forms of sexuality were played upon by the torturers in trying to undermine the integrity of both men and women. Male prisoners, for example, were forced to live as if they were women and, for the first time, they came to understand what it meant to be constantly aware of their bodies, to be ridiculed, to be battered.
Women were ashamed to speak of their torture and, in the same way in South Africa where sexual assault is common knowledge, women are also afraid to talk about these assaults according to people who have worked with detainees. It is clear from South African accounts and parallel international experience that the differing constructions of gender shape their experience and treatment. Although studies of political violence do not highlight men's gender experience of their torture, studies or ordinary prisoners reveal systematic attacks on their masculinity. An interesting hypothesis suggests that sexual torture of men aims to induce sexual perversity and to abolish political power and potency whereas behind the sexual torture of women, is the activation of sexuality to induce shame and guilt.
The intent of all of this is to break down the fabric of society and to break down the political will and resistance of those who are being tortured. One could argue that sexual assault in the context of political detention and the war are institutionalised acts which make public the private. We then go on to deal with particular kinds of assaults and we use examples from the experience of particular political prisoners. For example, Jenny Schreiner described how physical violence she experienced while being tortured came as a particular shock to her as a middle class White women and she describes in graphic detail how Mostert, in fact, tortured her in a particular way, but she argues that my response was that all Section 29, sorry, I am just, I need to rephrase that. In her statement to us she describes how she was forced to do things she did not want to do and at first she felt capable of doing that, but in time, this was undermined and her sense of confidence in her own position began gradually to be eroded and she describes how she was physically picked up and slammed against a wall.
"I mean, he did not shatter my skull or anything, but it is a clear statement from step one.",
"He was saying, I am in control of this, I am bigger than you, I am more aggressive than you and I have no respect for you.",
and there, I think, that is also a question of it being a gender thing and this issue of respect is very important and it is one I want to come back to a little bit later. The issue of women's position in society in general being one of secondary status, of lacking respect of society as a whole.
Women described, also, the rape and the threat of rape in detention. One detainee described how women had been raped in detention,
"... and you yourself while you are there ...",
"... you have that fear the whole time that you can be raped. It is a constant fear.".
Tenjiwe Mtinso described the very same thing, how the fear of rape is always present for women detainees. She may not have described her own experience of torture in detention yesterday, but she described to us how, at one point in her detention, her head was used as if it was a ball and for the whole day, kadung, kadung, kadung, her head was bounced against a wall as if it was a basket ball and she feared constantly that she may be raped.
Another way in which women experienced torture was being told that their children were very ill or that their children were dying or that their children had died. This they did to Mama Sisulu and they did it also to Tenjiwe Mtinso. Elaine Muhammad described how, she said,
"The way women experience detention is totally different from the way men do. I burst into tears when a security policeman said to me, I really enjoy interrogating women. I can get things out of them and do things with them that I cannot do to a man.".
Say that to a 21 year old woman and you put the fear of rape into her mind immediately. She said,
"I was terrified by this statement. I felt horror and pain about it when I was physically hit by the police and I think the police realised this immediately. I was body searched twice a day, I remember police women making me strip in front of men and people laughing at me.".
Another way of torturing women was to withhold medical care. Mrs Mandela, herself, was withheld medical care when it was feared that she might have a miscarriage in prison. They would not let midwives attend to her. That is what, the evidence from Albertina Sisulu. Then there were psychological forms of torture. The attack on women's identity as women. An anonymous detainee,
"I think detention does effect us in the same way to a certain extent, but a lot differs in terms of how you actually in detail, how you actually experience detention. To start with the attitude of the police towards you. You may try many ways to make you feel that you should not be here, a woman should not be here. You are here, because you are not the right kind of woman. Constantly undermining women, saying you are the equivalent of a whore to be doing this. You are irresponsible, you are an unnatural woman, an unnatural mother. They say all sorts of things to you. You worry a lot about responsibilities outside prison, your responsibility. Children are removed from their mothers.".
Jenny Schreiner described how the Security Police would search for the areas of vulnerability in a detainee and then they would hone in on those areas of vulnerability, undermining the person, trying to make her, Jenny, feel diminished as a woman.
"Ruthless prying ...",
"... into an area of a person's personal life that they knew was vulnerable. That all the kind of personal pain of a marriage that does not work is brought to the fore and in a context where they were going to send you back to a police cell to sit with nothing other than the emotions that you had scratched upon. You are 30, you are single, therefore there is something wrong with you as a woman and that is why you get involved with politics. They were attacking your identity with their own particular conception of what a woman is.".
Now, in our research we bring all of these issues together and we suggest that there is a systematic undermining of women's sense of their self, of their sexuality in order to undermine their sense of political commitment, their sense of belonging to a community and when women left detention, went out of detention they experienced a great deal of silent pain which they were not able to express and very often they also experienced a kind of secondary victimisation.
Now, one of the things that we want to talk about in our submission is what we call the ambiguities and the silences which surround the experience of sexual violence. I have already touched on these, but I would like to develop a point. In the case of the experience of sexual assault at the hands of the police there should be no ambiguity, but, of course, we have found that there is, in our experience and it is, perhaps, not too difficult to understand the shame that is experienced there. It is when we move from the terrain of State action to the more private realm where we need, I think, to look a little bit more carefully at what has been happening in South Africa, the experience in the townships and in the exile camps where silence and ambiguity have also asserted themselves.
We do not want to leave a legacy in which past behaviour of a violent, yet sexual nature is excluded from the view of the TRC. I think yesterday we got our first glimpse of some of the issues that we want to bring to the fore. In the case of sexual assault there is a link between domestic violence and political violence and we need to understand that there is a continuum of behaviours which cannot be condoned and which we need to come out and stand firm about. We would like to raise the issue of rape as a particular kind of crime against humanity. Common in all situations of war and civil war, but it is also a crime which is common in times of peace, in situations of peace and in our society it is a particularly wide spread occurrence during this period of transformation and transition.
It cannot be dissolved from the personal and, in our view, it cannot either be disconnected from the whole way in which women are conceived in civil society, as subordinated often treated as secondary citizens and so the question arises, should the crime of rape receive amnesty? The TRC needs to send a message that this cannot be tolerated at any time. We feel strongly that the need, that we need to remove the ambiguity and the silence about this experience and take a moral stand to condemn it in the highest possible terms. It is not enough for an organisation or a political party to report that sexual violence, including rape, occurred as did the African National Congress.
We can applaud and, indeed, we do the fact that it is the only organisation to admit and acknowledge sexual torture and sexual violence, but we need to be quite clear in our condemnation of this kind of behaviour and of the euphemism and ambiguity lodged in its submission. The point is that women have been silenced. Many are too afraid to come forward, to come out on a limb in a situation where life goes on and where they find themselves in an ongoing set of power relations which structure their positions and their future. Their positions may well be jeopardised if they come out about their experiences. We are pretty sure that women throughout the organisation have experienced sexual harassment or sexual abuse of some kind and many women carry the pain inside them.
We need, at the end of the Commission's life, to be able to carry the process itself beyond the end point. Our concern is that the politics of gender power is something which continues. Victims and perpetrators are with us still, crimes of sexual violence blur with the political. In our submission we describe gangs of youth, some of them demobilised young Comrades, for example, who have formed themselves into a group called SARA, South African Rapists Association. These youth roam the streets, disciplining young women whom they see as snobs, women who will not subordinate themselves or refuse to go along with these youth. The discipline is rape.
We witness the rape of a Black woman in very recent times, Nomboniso Gasa, on Robben Island by a discontented former warden who sees transformation in terms of insecurity and job loss and we see a former security policeman killing his own wife. These are the legacies of the past, but they are also the legacies of gender, power relations. The lack of respect which is accorded to women in this society and this is a culture that we have to change and the TRC needs to do this in the strongest possible terms.
Now, it in this context that we would like to recommend and to call for a process beyond the life of the TRC. First of all, we recommend that the TRC or some process that sets up an institute, and we will recommend a Peace Institute, which continues the research into the past and brings these to the public's attention. I think that what the TRC has done has to open up, has been to open up a process which may well just be the tip of the iceberg. We call for further efforts and opportunities to be made for women to speak out. It might take ten or 20 or 30 or even 40 years for women to acknowledge their experiences as it did for the women in South East Asia or for the victims of the holocaust to acknowledge sexual abuse by Nazi camp commanders.
We believe, thirdly, that it will be imperative to have ongoing social support and reparation. Not just in terms of individuals, but a whole structural process of provision through the State and civil society which provides psychological, health, social and economic upliftment. Our final plea is for a Peace Institute to be established as a living monument in memory of this very dark period of our history. In conclusion we would like to say that the final report and information produced by the TRC needs to avoid treating the experience of women as simply a chapter, but, rather, it needs to take the view that gender relations inform our entire history and gender relations determine the shape of everybodies experience in this society both in the past and in the present and, no doubt, in the future. It shapes the experience of men and women and children.
CHAIRPERSON: Sheila, thank you very much for what you have presented before us. I just want to, in thanking you, indicate that most of the examples you have referred to were confirmed by quite a number of women yesterday, that definitely, in this country, sexuality has been an instrument of war and I would also indicate as a challenge to you that, as a Commission, we will highly appreciate it if bodies like yourself can take a much deeper look at issues, to articulate issues which make is almost impossible, especially for women and politics to separate themselves from their political parties and articulate gender experiences of human rights violations. That is still a challenge and ...
DR MEINTJIES: I think the challenge is to all of us as men and women to organise ourselves to ensure that gender is a priority in the Government. It is an issue that really has not found enough support. It has, I think, it is a bit like a mantra in the society and we need to avoid that.
CHAIRPERSON: Actually, I was interrupted, I was just saying there are areas which you still think we need well though through formulations as to what are stumbling blocks, but also it is important what you have said that when reporting to the President it will be important to make sure that the whole report is gender sensitive. That is an important point that you have made. I will give this opportunity to Commissioners to ask you one or two questions, although normally we do not ask people who are giving a perspective a question, but as a researcher, it is different.
MS SOOKA: Sheila, I just want to explore two points you make. The one is about the link between sexual crimes during the times of political violence and the spill over into the present crime situation. I was wondering if you could just explore that a little.
DR MEINTJIES: I think it is always a very difficult issue to prove. However, I think there is, the point is that if you look at what happens during peace time and what happens during war there is a continuum of behaviour and, in our view, this links to the way in which woman are constructed in civil society. Not just in this one, but across the globe the subordination of women is a global phenomenon and it is a historically global phenomenon. It is not a new phenomenon. One would have hoped that by the end of the 20th century you might have seen a shift away from this construction both in the private and in the public realms, but we have not. What we are seeing at the end of the 20th century, in fact, is an increase in violence against women, an increase in the trafficking in women and this is something that the global order, in affect, needs to come to grips with, because it is hampering the full development of society.
We need to understand that we have to change both the norms and the structural relations in society not simply at the level of the Law. We have very good Laws in this country. We have an excellent Constitution. We now have to implement them by making it deeply rooted in the society and the major problem in the society is violence against women. It is probably the single most shared experience of women across class, across race, across culture.
MS SOOKA: Just another question which is that you talked about the ambiguities when one actually moves from the realm of State relations to, in fact, the question of what happened in townships and in exile as well and that, certainly, is a problem in that there is a greater reluctance to talk about that and I wonder if your research has actually been able to explore that more fully.
DR MEINTJIES: Well, I would like to say that we tried. We tried very hard not to detract from the achievements of the political movement, but really to come to grips with the issue of the experience of violence and the violation of women in townships, in the movement and women were extremely reluctant to speak. Understandably I think, but we wanted to break that silence. There has not been enough debate in the society, in the movement about the issue of gender power relations. In our submission, the big submission, we interviewed Tenjiwe Mtinso who describes her treatment by junior, more junior officials, by more junior members of Umkhonto we Sizwe who threatened her with rape. She is a senior commander.
Now, what is going on there? It is saying you may well be my senior commander, but at the end of the day you are merely a woman. There is there embedded in that relationship a struggle over gender power that needs, that we need to understand very clearly. It is part of the resistance of men in the society to acknowledging that women are their equals, not just in a formal sense, but in a real sense. We may have sexual differences and that may lead to different activities, but we each, men and women, have equal responsibility for bringing up children and for engaging in the society, in building the society. Most women in this society work, as a matter of course. Nobody can afford not to anymore and yet women still bear the brunt of the responsibility for running the home and bringing up children. Now, those things need to be looked at in new ways and men need to take more responsibility and it is reflected in those kind of relationships that we are talking about and a movement like the ANC, which has the moral high ground, in a sense, needs to be signalling that this is a priority, but it is not. It is not doing that and we can see that in many ways.
The Government has given the Gender Commission R2,0m. It is R4,0m less than the Human Rights Commission which has said that it cannot function with R6,0m and that is probably one third, again, of what is given to the Youth Commission and yet women form 52% of the population. Our priorities are skewed and we have to reassert where the priorities ought to lie.
MS SOOKA: Just one last comment which is the, in your recommendations you talk about an institute to continue this research, but surely the research into the question of gender abuses during the past, do you not see that as, perhaps, something which the Gender Commission can, in fact, take on once the Commission has finished its work?
DR MEINTJIES: I would love to say yes, but the Gender Commission has got a budget of R2,0m which barely covers their salaries, wages, shall I say. I think it would be, I think that we need to spread the load. We cannot land the Gender Commission with all the tasks that need to be undertaken. I think that the apartheid experience is a particular experience that we need to be able to bring to the surface and so we need to recommend to the President that more funding ought to be given to this kind of work and counselling, for example. It is not just going to be women, it is going to be men, it is going to be children who have been through the most terrible experiences.
We need to have the framework and the services to try and meet that kind of need and we are seeing now, 50 years after the Second World War, suddenly we are seeing the emergence of experiences that had been little heard of in the past, that people were afraid to talk about. We are going to have the same thing in South Africa and we need to have contingencies in place to deal with those things. The Gender Commission is not going to be the only arena for that. I think there is a great deal that we need to do in terms of reconstructing the society that the Gender Commission is going to have to deal with.
CHAIRPERSON: I will ask Joyce Seroke to ask you a few questions.
MS SEROKE: Sheila, mine is not a question really. I would just like to reiterate what you said about the need to break the silence and to create special platforms for women to speak up and I just want to give an example of what happened yesterday. Two of our witnesses yesterday, who testified, had also an opportunity to testify in the general hearings that we had, but during those hearings they never opened up like they did yesterday, but because we created this environment, it was easy for them to break the silence and really go further than what they had said previously, to say exactly what was done to them.
DR MEINTJIES: Women need a safe place in which to speak out. They need to know that there are safety nets to catch them as they fall with the pain and they need to be able to be helped through that pain. It is an ongoing process. What we saw yesterday was two women who are going to need further help, counselling, in order to rebuild their lives. You can see how their lives have been crushed by that experience. It is the same for other survivors of rape and sexual torture. It is something that is ongoing. It is not something that just happens during apartheid, obviously. It takes certain forms during that era.
We have it today, we see it in the increasing crime and to come back to the question that Yasmin asked me, what is that link? It is to do with the way in which women are structured in the society, the lack of respect and the anger. Women may not have the authority, but they have considerable power and there is enormous anger against women both because they do not have the authority and because they have the power and so it is young men who are doing all of this raping and this violation at the moment in the crime area. They are doing things that we find very hard to understand and comprehend, but I think that the answer lies in this issue of gender power relation. That is where we have to start working.
CHAIRPERSON: I have been asked to allow one or two people to ask Sheila questions. We are opening this to the audience, but it will be very limited and focused. If one has a question which particularly look at the involvement of women in political conflicts and what happens to them. I would not like us just to broaden it away from the main thrust of this hearing, looking at women and their involvement in politics. Thank you.
If there are no questions, Sheila, I just wanted to make a comment that we hope before we write a final report your organisation will be able to advise the Commission appropriately as to how to deal with this issue whereby, for instance, you recommended that at the end of this there should be a Peace Institute. I mean, people who are working in this area, as researchers, they tend to, they have said if you come up with separate, let us say, women studies, all over the world have not worked very well. They tend to be marginalised, they are seen as, even if you call it gender institutes within academic sectors, people see them as women thing and it is like the trend is to say, look, we need to integrate these issues across the board. So, I was not sure, I mean, even the whole question of a Commission on Gender Equality I thought, well, initially we will need it to articulate issues, but hopefully it will be an issue for each and every organ of civil society.
DR MEINTJIES: I mean the difficulty of saying we do not need them and we need to take a gender neutral stance is that then the issues that are of burning concern to women do get pushed aside. What we need is to flag these issues by forming these commissions, by forming special gender studies programmes, women studies. I mean, there are some people who argue we should not even adulterate the issue of women studies with gender studies, because women are such a neglected arena of research. So, there is a lot of debate in this area. I think where we suggest a Peace Institute is something that is broader than simply Women's Peace Institute.
I think we need a Peace Institute itself which will be a living memorial. The living memorial is to continue the work that is being done here, not necessarily in terms of continuing public hearings, but continuing research into the past in order to build a new society based on new kinds of principles, a new morality.
CHAIRPERSON: If, okay, did you want to ask a question?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Indistinct) absolutely (indistinct) that once (indistinct) that the (indistinct) that they (indistinct)?
DR MEINTJIES: I think that is part of the explanation. In situations where women experience less economic vulnerability there is less violence. However, there is evidence to show that in countries like Sweden and Norway the incidents of violence against women is increasing and those societies do not have the kinds of problems that we have. So, it is not enough, it is not enough, it is getting there. We are really speaking about gender power relations that are even deeper than the economic ones and it is to get to that, to those issues that we have to look at. It is a whole ideological structuration around gender relations that we are talking about here. We have got to look at restructuring relationships in such a way that both in the economic realm and in the more private, intimate family realm that you see the change taking place. Economics helps, but it does not go far enough.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Indistinct).
CHAIRPERSON: Excuse me, have we got a record of what you are saying, Mam?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Indistinct).
CHAIRPERSON: Is the red button on? Okay.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We are talking about (indistinct) and (indistinct) access to (indistinct) that is (indistinct) constitutes (indistinct) what do you mean by that? (Indistinct) then what is (indistinct).
DR MEINTJIES: We are trying to get there. I mean I think that it is very difficult to define exactly what it is. That is the whole point of gender relations. It is everywhere. It is in every aspect of our lives. It is not simply at the economic level, it is not simply at the political level. It is in every area and every aspect and, in particular, I think I mentioned, the private realm and it, we need to identify all of those areas and begin to act in them. Now, the one area that has been excluded from actions of the State, of course, is the private realm. Now, one is not calling for action in that area. That is an area that people do not want the State to come in. In the most violent areas of women's lives, the private.
When we were doing research for the Coalition, for example, in focus groups, women identified economics as the main issue for them. You explored, further, what they wanted changed in their lives and they said, well, we would like our men to stop beating us up every day, but that was not the most important issue for them. The most important issue was that they wanted jobs and security. Once that was sorted out then they began to speak about the issue of violent family relations. So, the issue is more complex than simply economic.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Indistinct).
DR MEINTJIES: And access to, I do not think that access to resources is the only realm of power. I mean, politicians, political scientists do not see power simply in terms of access to resources. They see it in much broader terms.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Indistinct) and (indistinct) separation of the (indistinct) I think that (indistinct), because I think that when we talk about gender power we (indistinct) and I think that (indistinct) bringing us (indistinct), because in cases where women have (indistinct) than (indistinct) they tend to control more and they tend to control their tempers better and they tend to blame (indistinct) their women who do not have any economic (indistinct) totally (indistinct). So what I (indistinct) major issue, as far as you are concerned, it is very, very important and I would like to know what other aspects we should be looking at in order to bring gender relations to (indistinct) greater equality? What do we mean by gender equality?
DR MEINTJIES: Well, I think we mean more than formal equality in terms of the Law.
CHAIRPERSON: Okay, can I just come in. I should think the point has been made. We really appreciate your input. Sheila we will just allow you to make one closing statement.
DR MEINTJIES: Well, I think that when we look, what this debate has brought up, I think, is the issue of how do we understand gender equality and I think that one of the statements about gender equality that would be important for us to turn to, to look for ways in which we can change South African women's inequality is the Women's Charter for effective equality which identifies 12 areas of life where they feel that they need life to be changed. This is probably where the Gender Commission, itself, will take off from in order to start addressing the areas of women's disability, of women's subordination and domination in society.
CHAIRPERSON: Sheila, thank you very much. We hope your structure will continue co-operating with the Commission. Thank you for coming forward.
DR MEINTJIES: Thank you very much. I would just like to say that we are very grateful to the Commission for listening with such an open mind to our suggestions and our criticisms and we would just like to say that we are very happy to co-operate with you and it may be useful for everybody here to know that the Gender Commission has invited us to workshop the writing of the TRC report next week. Thank you very much.