SOWETO – Innovating Kasi Organisation (IKO) hosted a debate on gender-based violence at the Diepkloof Multipurpose Hall in Soweto on Monday morning. Among high profile people lending their support to the initiative was ANC Chairperson Baleka Mbete, actor and writer Patrick Shai and HIV/AIDS activist Angie Diale.
Present at the debate were victims and survivors of gender violence sharing their stories. Despite being heartbreaking to hear the anguish spoken in first-person by victims, the event provided glimpses of hope as a community came together to deal with the scourge of gender-based violence.
As a South African and a father I am frustrated and I never want to see my children being victims of any type of abuse. These stories must be told and heard, because they show how vast the problem is and how women rarely speak out for various reasons including fear of victimisation and more.
As the number of cases involving gender violence is increasing daily in South Africa, there seems to be no form of criteria or method put in place by the relevant authorities to deal with this kind of animalistic behaviour. We see perpetrators roaming in our streets just after being found guilty of committing such a barbaric acts and others even brag about having done such evil deeds.
Why do we have to wait for tragedies to happen before we act? Talking alone – and writing opinion pieces – will not help solve the problem. Instead, we should try to find the root of this evil, how did we get to this situation?
Parents have a bigger role to play in trying to combat gender-based violence. Intimate partner violence is one of the most widespread forms of direct violence against women, and includes a range of sexual, psychological and physical coercive acts used against adult and adolescent women by a current or former intimate partner.
Boys who grows up in a family where the father abuses the mother, it is proven that such boys often grow up imitating what their father was doing to their mother as they grew up believing that is how a lady should be treated and unfortunately that affects the vulnerable and innocent young girls who will be on the receiving end.
Mothers have a responsibility too, which is to learn to teach their daughters how to walk away from such abusive relationships. When will our mother, sisters and daughters say enough is enough?. The time is now.
I believe the South African media has failed our people dismally. The media is not portraying the real issues which are affecting our people and there are also not enough educational programmes on our TV screens. The media has got the power to change or shape people’s minds, so it must be utilized in a way that will encourage our youth to live positively.
Let us stop living in the hope of believing something might change. We are change, if change is to happen it will be through us. Something has to be done and quickly.
It is high time we follow proper channels, which is to facilitate the introduction and implementation of evidence-based legal and policy frameworks that effectively address violence against women and girls. To do this, we engage with policy-makers, parliamentarians and civil society partners to build capacity to prevent and respond to violence and to raise awareness of its causes and consequences.
Police officers must interact with communities on a daily basis, it is important to use the community-police partnership to combat gender-based violence.
Gender-based violence will only diminish if men and women unite to fight against it.
Men will have to speak out to other men who are contributing to rape culture. They must start to address other men’s perceptions and stereotypes about women’s sexuality. They must call out men who believe women can be beaten to “discipline” them.
This is not the time to be pointing fingers at each other, it is the time to start acting and taking responsibilities by saying to ourselves that we have failed as a nation.
Government alone can not fight this epidemic, we need all church organisations and non-profit organisations that deal with gender-based violence to join forces and fight against this behaviour.
Without such intervention, the problem of sexual violence will not stop, instead we will talking the same language in the next years to come.