Pregnant 28-year-old Tshegofatso Pule was found stabbed and hanging in Gauteng. Picture: Supplied
Pregnant 28-year-old Tshegofatso Pule was found stabbed and hanging in Gauteng. Picture: Supplied

ANC and alliance partners: Dismantling toxic masculinity key in fight against GBV

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Jun 23, 2020

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Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC's alliance partners say dismantling toxic masculinity is key to ending the scourge of gender-based violence that has gripped the country over the past few weeks.

Ramaphosa was in discussion with leaders from the ANC Women's League and the SAPC on Monday night. This discussion follows weeks of reports of women being killed allegedly at the hands of the domestic partners.

Ramaphosa said it was important that men changed the way they view women. He said mobilising men was key to ending the scourge of gender-based violence.

"Patriarchy is excised by men, those who feel superior to women and that they can order them around and kill them. It is this patriarchy that we need to breakdown. We need to raise the level of awareness. Men need to be aware that women are not their objects and are not there to be raped and killed. If we can mobilise various organisations where men can participate in we would have come a long way," Ramaphosa said.

"Young boys need to be taught to respect women."

The president went further and said a clear message that can be sent to deter men from killing women would be to deny bail to those who have been accused of violent crimes against women.

“It needs to be made clear that if you harass a woman sexually if you beat up a woman, the consequences are going to be very harsh. It’s for that reason that I’ve supported very strongly that when a man has been arrested for rape, killing, and even assault they must not be given bail,” Ramaphosa said.

ANC Women's League President Bathabile Dlamini shared similar sentiments and called for men to change how they viewed women. She said the language of "ownership" needs to change when referring to women.

"A society that is always worried about the behaviour of girls and not boys is a problem. We do not have to be protected because we belong to someone, our value is not dependent on being someone's wife and daughter. The language used and the ways it is coded is very dangerous because it says the rights of women do not exist," Dlamini said.

Activist Bafana Khumalo, the co-founder of Sonke Gender Justice weighed in on the discussion and provided critical views on the behaviour of political leaders and how it contributed to violent behaviour seen in society.

Khumalo said how members of Parliament act, through words used to demean women, showed society that leaders fail to "walk the talk" in acting against gender-based violence.

"Even in our own Parliament where leaders speak to fellow MPs in an unbecoming manner, women's bodies are used as weapons in the struggle for ideas. Leaders of society must lead from the front - when you act in a particular way people take it as a sign.

"It is how you lead by example and walk the talk. We need bold leadership that will help guide the country. The president cannot be on his own and there needs to be consistent messaging by leaders and show a unity of purpose," Khumalo said.

He said as long as toxic masculinity was not confronted as a threat in the fight against gender-based violence then very little change would be seen even if policing was to be increased.

He said draining and confronting the ideas steeped deep in society's view of women was key to confronting the scourge of gender-based violence.

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