HARD-HITTING: Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa
Randburg - The government has invited civil society to join it in taking a tough stance against women and child abuse.

Deputy President Cyril said on Sunday that a holistic and concerted approach between the government, the faith-based community and civic organisations is what is needed to tackle “one of the most devastating social crises of our young democracy”.

This was the overriding theme of yesterday's launch of the National Campaign Against Violence Towards Women and Children at the Rhema Bible Church in Randburg, where the deputy president gave the keynote address.

Ramaphosa said the violence and abuse of women and children resembled an “epidemic”.

He called for the confrontation of what he felt was the anomaly of patriarchy, which he said was a human construction amplified through social custom, culture and popular media.

“It is implied in the social and economic arrangement of society, where men occupy most positions of authority and responsibility, earn more and receive greater social recognition,” he said.

“Therefore, if we are to end violence against women and children, we need to confront patriarchy in all its forms and manifestations.”

Ramaphosa is also patron of the Moral Regeneration Movement and was speaking at the invitation of the National Religious Leaders Council, Rhema and civic organisations.

Speaking to The Star, Rhema spokesperson Pastor Giet Khoza pointed out that this campaign needed to be holistic for it to have a footprint countrywide.

Khoza said that is why different faiths had joined forces with the government and civil society to fight the scourge of abuse.

“The biggest thing we need to do now is create awareness across our communities. This is because some people believe it is a norm for women and girls to be beaten.

“We need to create an awareness that it is not right - including the bad language we use to speak to our young boys and girls, this language must change. Secondly, the church needs to stand up, like Mr Ramaphosa said, and be counted within the community,” he added.

The deputy president said society should adopt the approach used to fight apartheid, where faith-based organisations played a prominent role in toppling the repressive regime.

The campaign is also supported by the Police Ministry and will include various programmes in the build-up to the annual 16 days of Activism in November.

Khoza said the church will hold an event once a month leading up to November, together with government, to highlight the scourge of violence against vulnerable groups.

“Women’s Month is upon us and we will have a conference where this scourge will also be highlighted. And together with government, we are planning more programmes.

“We want a consistent focus, so that we can sustain this programme,” he pointed out.

Presidency spokesperson Tyrone Seale said they were looking at a “365-day” approach so as to not pay lip service to tackling the abuse of women and children.

Seale said they were pleased that financial, emotional and physical support will be given to victims and survivors of abuse by the church.

"This is an ongoing effort to ensure that we not only provide support services to women and children, but also - as emphasised by the deputy president a number of times - that we engage men in discussing this issue,” Seale said.

“It is important that these campaigns reach all sectors of society and communities, including communities of faith,” he added.

The Star

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