Educate boys that they aren’t better than girls, Ramaphosa says in fighting GBV
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President Cyril Ramaphosa said while South Africans were waging a war against Covid-19, the country also faced another pandemic in the form of gender-based violence (GBV) and homophobic crimes.
Ramaphosa told the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) on Saturday that the student organisation needed to be at the forefront in fighting against GBV, homophobia and bullying both in wider society and in schools.
“These are issues that organisations such as Cosas have a major role in. Your members are born free and must not be made to live in fear for whatever reason,” he said.
“We must, at a very early age, educate boys that they are not better than girls. Added to this, no boy can ever claim ownership and should never claim ownership of a girl and her body.”
With South Africa having one of the highest rates of gender-based violence in the world, including femicide, Ramaphosa said that such initiatives were necessary if the country is to successfully conscientise and mobilise the whole of society to deal decisively with all the societal ills that the country faces today.
“We must condemn, with all the contempt it deserves, all acts of bullying that we continue to see in our schools,” he said.
“Cosas must play a central role in inculcating in our learners that diminishing another learner’s light does not result in your own light shining brighter,” Ramaphosa said.
“All learners must shun and isolate all bullies in our schools. A bully is no hero, but is rather a barbaric person. The scourge of bullying in our schools negatively affects academic progress for many learners.”
He called for the lives of bullying victims Lufuno Mavhunga and others who committed suicide as a result of being bullied by fellow pupils, saying that a pupil dying as a result of bullying was one too many.
“Bullying is learned and it can be unlearned.”
Ramaphosa said that the government was now employing a multipronged approach to this problem. He said they believed the problem was psychological and was mostly perpetrated by children who were victims “coming from families with a deep-rooted culture of violence”.
“We call on all stakeholders in our schooling system to work together to ensure that our schools become insulated from any form of violence,” Ramaphosa said.
“Gangsters must also not find space in our schools, our schools are and must be gun-free zones and they must also be weapon-free zones. They must be knife-free zones,” Ramaphosa added.
Ramaphosa was speaking during a virtual event of the Cosas Student Month Remembrance to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto uprisings led by students.
He said that the gallant class of 1976 was outstandingly brave and had an unrelenting conviction that never allowed them to betray the course of freedom, saying that it was important to remember the class of 1976 and their contribution to the country’s liberation struggle in order to educate South Africans that freedom was not free.
“Some people even had to pay the ultimate price for our freedom, which is life itself,” Ramaphosa said.
“We are celebrating the bravery of the entire 1976 generation, which in its unbending belief that freedom must be fought for they had to bring the oppressive apartheid regime to its knees, despite and in spite of the heavily armed security machinery of the apartheid government.
Ramaphosa said that owing to the necessary impatience of the class of 1976 as young people they had infused a sense of urgency in the pursuit of the national democratic revolution and had immensely impacted upon the course of the country’s struggle and has also had an impact on the socio-political landscape of the country.
“The struggles in the classroom today are distinctly different from those of the class of 1976, these struggles are further exacerbated by the war we are waging against an invisible enemy that is Covid,” Ramaphosa said.
He said that it was now worrying that as Covid-19 infections continued to soar, despite the country being placed in adjusted lockdown level 3, the virus was now even cutting across the younger generation.