‘‘don’t forget to tell us what
happened to you yourself . . .’’
Before it finished its work, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
held three special women’s hearings and ‘‘attempted to amend its pro-
cedures in ways that would encourage women to speak.’’ This took place
in response to perceptions, voiced at a workshop held in March 1996 by
the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (cals) and articulated in a written
submission, that ‘‘the Commission might be missing some of the truth
through a lack of sensitivity to gender issues. . . . The cals submission
unashamedly focused on women in the belief that it is the voices of
women that more often go unheard’’ (Truth 4:282).
It was not simply that women were not speaking. The problem was
more complex. Women were speaking, but they were not speaking
about their own experiences. They were instead bearing witness to
what happened to others—and those others were, in many cases, men:
‘‘Women were by no means absent from other hearings of the Commis-
sion. . . . over half of those who spoke were women, but . . . the roles and
capacities in which women and men spoke di√ered. . . . while the over-
whelming majority of women spoke as relatives and dependants of those
(mainly males) who had directly su√ered human rights violations, most
of the men spoke as direct victims’’ (Truth 4: 283; see also 289–90).
Reminded by cals that nothing prevented it from asking victims
questions about their own experiences (Goldblatt and Meintjes 19, 38),
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