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Roping in men in fight against gender-based violence remains a must


Busi Kheswa

By Busi Kheswa

Gauteng Department of SociaI Development continues to advocate for the rights of the vulnerable groups in South Africa, including those of women. This includes devising strategies and plans that aim to deal with the scourge of gender-based violence.

 August, a month in which we are supposed to celebrate women, government, civil society and society at large continue to witnessincidences related to violence against women. These unfortunate and painful incidences leave children motherless, parents daughterless as women continue to lose their lives at the hands of the opposite sex. We have seen that in some instances they are killed or abused by those who are supposed to protect them.

 According to NGO that advocates against gender-based violence, Safer Spaces, gender-based violence occurs as a result of normative role expectations and unequal power relationships between genders in a society. The expectations associated with different genders vary from society to society and over time. Patriarchal power structures dominate in many societies, in which male leadership is seen as the norm, and men hold most of the power.

 This right here places men at the centre of the monster that we are confronted with.

 South African women are constantly exposed to the violation of their human rights. Unfortunately, this is mostly done by their intimate partners or people they were once intimate with. This problem cuts across all social classes, religions, races and age groups. Summarily, there seems to be a lack of problem-solving skills and emotional intelligence among South African men, and they seem to be generally lacking in showing respect towards women. Women, as the generally weaker sex physically compared to men, tend to experience severe consequences when attacked or violated by men.

 As a society we all have a role to play in ending violence against women and children. The recent spate of violent attacks on women all have one thing in common: they have been perpetrated by men. This therefore means men bear an even greater responsibility in ending gender-based violence. 

 We can all acknowledge there is no way; we can win the fight against gender-based violence without roping in the culprits or perpetrator of this crime. This remains a responsibility for all to never remain silent in the face of discrimination and violence. We must raise our boys to treat women as equals, instill in them the values of respect and give them the tools to resolve conflicts and to process their emotional responses without resorting to anger and violence.

 Our voice as government can longer be loaded with violence against women, murders, rape and kidnappings, but the narrative should be talking directly to men and boys who might or are perpetrators of gender-based violence. No more than ever there should be a voice of men condemning their fellow friends, family, members, colleagues from committing these heinous and gruesome acts.

 Voice such as The #RealMenDont campaign, Men Ahead Development Agency (MADA), Men’s Forum, Khuluma Ndoda to name a few have seen South African men pleading with their fellow counterparts to raise their voices to protect the women and children of our country.  These organizations instil hope in our nation that men and boys are also concerned about continuous deaths of women and children and they are partners in fighting this evilness against women and children in this country.

 Recently government and various social partners hosted a virtual lecture on gender-based violence. This is done annually since 2018 in remembrance of the fallen victims of gender-based violence and femicide. One of the speakers, Patrick Shai, a reformed and rehabilitated perpetrator said genderbased violence starts at home, which therefore means we need to start addressing this scourge at the basic societal unit, the family. He further said before men can march to government, they need to start activism in their hearts and minds as some are not genuine to the cause. The first step is that men need to admit that by being bystanders in this heinous crime they are no different to perpetrators. Shai also called for gender- based violence to be declared a crime against humanity as this affects more than just the victims, but families and communities.

 During August we should be celebrating women, however as we try to do that, we are often reminded that women in this country have little to celebrate as they continue to be held hostage by gender violence.

This year we are calling out to men to assist in addressing misogynistic behaviour to reporting harassment and sexism everywhere, we want to encourage men to take part by activelystanding up against gender-based violence. This can start by teaching young boys on how to be better human beings, living in a violent free society.

Real men are not passive bystanders to a societal problem that they are responsible for. Stand up against violence against women and say not in my name.

Let us celebrate women month by taking a stance against gender-based violence. Let us all protect women.