Cape Town – As thousands of Capetonians descended on Parliament on Thursday to voice their disapproval at the government’s inability to combat gender-based violence at the #StopKillingOurWomen march, pamphlets were being handed out urging men to attend a public meeting to bring about immediate change.
Riaan de Villiers, the minister at the Groote Kerk in the CBD, who was handing out pamphlets, told the Cape Times: “We would like to invite all men to hear the cries of the women and the children in our country to come together so that they can talk among themselves and realise that they are the perpetrators of what is happening in the country.
“This is so that they can understand how they are contributing to this problem and can find a solution on how they will react and how they will change the current situation. They need to take immediate, concrete action on even a basic level.
“We would like all men over the country to have meetings in their communities to discuss practical ways in which they will address this onslaught against women and children.
“If men are the problem, then they must also be part of the solution. Therefore it must start at a basic level at the way that we speak amongst each other as men and the way we speak to women and treat them.
“Men need to become visible on the streets, so that when we see something isn’t right, we address it as men.”
The meeting will be held at 6pm on Monday at 55 Kloof Street in the CBD.
Rabbi Malcolm Matitiani, from Temple Israel, holding a placard reading “Stop violence against women” outside Parliament, said: “I am here to support women and to support the fact that all humans are created in the image of God and shouldn’t be violated, no matter their gender, sexual orientation or where they come from.
Video: Louis Neethling
“This protest is also against violence being perpetrated against people of all genders across the world. People who claim to have ethics and morals should take a stand.
“The vulnerable in our society should be protected. The punishment should fit the crime. I am against the death penalty.
“Our prisons are overpopulated and people convicted of some of the lesser crimes should perform community service and prisons should be for the serious crimes such as rape and murder and repeated offences.
“I think a lot of the crime has to be with unemployment and being desperate when it comes to offences like theft.”
Fabio Diliberto, holding a placard reading “Hands off our women and girls”, said: “My daughter is 19 and studying at UCT, so this kind of thing is close to home. Every time she goes out I worry.
“I think whether I should send her on self-defence courses or give her a Taser, but it’s not the way of life I want my child to brought up in.
“My son is 16, I also want him to respect women. Right now things are out of control. Communities need to stand up and men should teach their kids from the start to respect women and life.
“We can sit back and wait for the government to act, but it’s been proven over time that it doesn’t work. It’s got to start with us men.
“I am pro the death penalty and I know there are a lot of issues with that, but if it was my daughter who was killed, I would impose the death penalty myself. The criminals didn’t give women a right to life.”