Take a stand against the abuse of women and chil­dren

Vuk'uzenzele - - From The Union Buildings -

Gen­der based vi­o­lence is one of the most dev­as­tat­ing so­cial chal­lenges fac­ing our young democ­racy. Ev­ery day we hear about abuse against women and chil­dren, or read about vi­o­lence, in­clud­ing mur­der and rape.

The scourge of vi­o­lence against women and chil­dren re­sem­bles an epi­demic that is spread­ing through so­ci­ety, spar­ing no so­cial group or class. It shows no sign of abat­ing. The data re­leased by Stat­sSA in June shows that de­spite our joint ini­tia­tives to com­bat the scourge, it is get­ting worse. What must be stated here is that gen­der-based vi­o­lence is not caused by a virus, it is caused by peo­ple.

Un­like a virus that is of­ten trans­mit­ted through cough­ing or phys­i­cal, this epi­demic is spread through at­ti­tudes and be­hav­iour.

I don’t be­lieve that a man is born with the premise that he has do­min­ion over women.

In­stead, this view is handed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion and even­tu­ally is am­pli­fied through so­cial cus­toms, cul­ture and pop­u­lar me­dia.

It is im­plied in the so­cial and eco­nomic struc­ture of so­ci­ety where men oc­cupy most po­si­tions of au­thor­ity and re­spon­si­bil­ity and even earn more and re­ceive greater so­cial recog­ni­tion than women.

This ar­range­ment, which we know as pa­tri­archy, is not nat­u­ral. It is made by peo­ple and as such it can be taken apart by us all work­ing to­gether as a so­ci­ety.

End­ing the scourge of abuse against women and chil­dren starts with you and me. Let us take re­spon­si­bil­ity.

If we are to end vi­o­lence against women and chil­dren, we need to con­front pa­tri­archy in all its forms and man­i­fes­ta­tions and for men to play a key role by, among others, or­gan­is­ing them­selves in or­der to turn against gen­der-based vi­o­lence.

An ex­am­ple of sus­tained ac­tion by men is the re­cent #100MenMarch that took place first in Tsh­wane, and then around the coun­try.

In the true spirit of “Thuma Mina” or Send Me, gov­ern­ment or­gan­ised a demon­stra­tion in part­ner­ship with var­i­ous so­cial part­ners. Thou­sands of men around the coun­try marched in a joint ini­tia­tive to stop the vi­o­lence.

The march drew sec­tors of so­ci­ety, such as gov­ern­ment, busi­ness, labour, faith-based or­gan­i­sa­tions, non-profit and me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions in an ef­fort to stop vi­o­lence against women and chil­dren.

The men who took part in the march de­cided to be­come agents of change. I hope their ac­tions have in­spired others, es­pe­cially per­pe­tra­tors to end the vi­o­lence.

Those vi­o­lently as­sault­ing women and chil­dren need to re­alise that their ac­tions have a last­ing ef­fect on their vic­tims, and that their ac­tions will de­ter­mine the kind of so­ci­ety our chil­dren live in to­mor­row.

We must help women re­claim agency over their lives and bod­ies. The time has come for all of us to speak with one voice and take a stand. Just as we did dur­ing the apartheid strug­gle we must mo­bilise all sec­tors of so­ci­ety against this scourge.

As men there is noth­ing that com­pels us to hurt those who are vul­ner­a­ble.

Our coun­try will never be truly free un­til all our women are fully eman­ci­pated from the degra­da­tion of poverty, the in­dig­nity of sex­ism and pa­tri­archy, and the en­demic vi­o­lence daily ex­pe­ri­enced by them and our chil­dren.

Vi­o­lence per­pe­trated against women is an of­fence against the found­ing val­ues of our Con­sti­tu­tion. It goes against all that we seek to build as a na­tion.

I call on ev­ery South African to play their part in end­ing gen­der-based vi­o­lence by re­port­ing in­ci­dents of abuse in your com­mu­nity to the near­est po­lice sta­tion.

By do­ing this you are send­ing out a strong mes­sage of non-tol­er­ance al­low­ing our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem to do its job to pros­e­cute per­pe­tra­tors of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

The De­part­ment of So­cial De­vel­op­ment also has a Gen­der-Based Vi­o­lence Com­mand Cen­tre (GBVCC) – a 24-hour call cen­tre that pro­vides sup­port and coun­selling to vic­tims of gen­der based vi­o­lence. Their num­ber is 0800 428 428 (0800 GBV GBV). Callers can also re­quest a so­cial worker from the Com­mand Cen­tre to con­tact them by di­alling *120*7867# (free) from any cell phone.

I en­cour­age sur­vivors of gen­der-based vi­o­lence to use the ser­vices of­fered by this cen­tre.

A na­tion that un­der­mines the as­pi­ra­tions of women and op­presses them can have no peace, no so­cial co­he­sion, and no de­vel­op­ment.

The ne­glect and so­cial ex­clu­sion of women in our demo­cratic break­through would mean a be­trayal of the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle and of free­dom stal­warts like Char­lotte Max­eke, Ruth First, Dorothy Nyembe, Amina Cachalia, Win­nie Man­dela and many more.

Our lib­er­a­tion strug­gle was not just about end­ing na­tional op­pres­sion.

It was also about end­ing the triple op­pres­sion of women. As moth­ers, sis­ters, and daugh­ters, black women were op­pressed on the ba­sis of race, class, and gen­der.

The lib­er­a­tion of women de­mands that those who are a source of life – women - are also freed from sex­ist and op­pres­sive lan­guage.

This is what the new rev­o­lu­tion war­rants. This is what rad­i­cal eco­nomic eman­ci­pa­tion de­mands.

Women are the soul and fire of our na­tion.

We say Mal­i­bongwe be­cause our women are the bricks build­ing the dreams of a re­silient na­tion.

Let me re­mind ev­ery South African to al­ways have this slo­gan in their hearts and in their mind that “Change Be­gins With Me and I Can Mo­ti­vate Others to end Vi­o­lence”.

Let us work to­gether to build a safe and bet­ter so­ci­ety.

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