President Cyril Ramaphosa said that men are the perpetrators of gender-based violence (GBV)and it is them who need to change.
Ramaphosa was addressing the nation in his weekly newsletter “from the desk of the president” on Monday.
South Africa officially kicked off its annual 16 Days of Activism on Friday.
Ramaphosa said during the second Presidential Summit on Gender-based Violence and Femicide at the beginning of this month, he iterated that South Africa is “a nation at war with itself”.
“Between July and September this year, 989 women were murdered, 1 277 were victims of attempted murder and more than 13 000 were victims of serious assault. In just these three months, more than 10 000 rape cases were opened with the South African Police Service (SAPS).”
“Not even children, our most vulnerable citizens and most deserving of our care and protection, were not spared. In the six months to September 2022, over 500 children were killed,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa added that the country is in the grip of terrible crimes in which offenders are known to the victims.
“Women and children are being violated not only by strangers but by people who are known to them – by their fathers, boyfriends and husbands, by colleagues, teachers and even classmates.”
Ramahosa, however, said South Africa is not powerless to stop GBV.
“While we should be encouraged that many of the perpetrators are not being allowed to get away with their crimes, our foremost task is to prevent men and boys from becoming abusers in the first place.”
Men are the culprits
“Men are the perpetrators of gender-based violence and it is, therefore, men that need to change. It is men – as husbands and partners, as fathers, colleagues, peers and classmates – who need to consider their own attitudes towards women and girls,” Ramaphosa added.
The president said that by giving meaning to 16 Days of Activism, there needed to be dialogue between men about their responsibility towards women.
“By bringing together men of all races, classes and generations to speak frankly about their understanding of masculinity, we can show how some assumptions and practices that many people consider ‘normal’ are harmful to women and children.”
“As President, I stand ready to participate in men’s dialogues. I call on ministers, premiers, religious, political and community leaders, sports people, artists, celebrities and business people to do the same,” the president added.
Ramaphosa said the men of South Africa owe it to the women and children of this country to take up the struggle against GBV.