ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte wants social media users and journalists who body shame women to be prosecuted.

Duarte was responding to what she describes as a “war on women”.

“Women’s body parts are used as swear words,” she writes in an editorial published in this week’s edition of ANC Today, the party’s weekly journal.

According to Duarte, men called other men “tits” when they wished to disparage them and, even worse, the vagina was used as a swear word.

She said it was detestable that men used female genitalia as an expletive.

“Even in the ANC, a very prominent social media figure and NEC (national executive committee) member on his WhatsApp group describes a woman leader as ‘* **s leadership’,” she wrote.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has asked the police crime intelligence unit to investigate rude messages sent from his phone to WhatsApp groups of ANC members and leaders, saying it had been hacked.

Duarte continued: “The equality clause in the Constitution and the ANC (gender) parity policy ends ‘at my gate’. So say many men.”

She added that men who joined women in the fight against gender violence still referred to women as “our women”.

“In other words, they are safeguarding their property,” said Duarte.

She also railed against what she described as “the reductionist approach” by journal­ists and men in politics to equate female genitalia with their negative views of both males and females.

“We raise our children in this negative atmosphere towards women,” Duarte said.

Last week, Eyewitness News reporter Barry Bateman fell foul after being caught on camera insulting EFF leader Julius Malema, calling him a “* **s”.

Bateman was taken off air immediately and Eyewitness News has ­undertaken to hold an internal probe that will deal with the matter appropriately.

However, its unreserved apology was rejected by Malema.

Duarte suggested several solutions to deal with the “war on women”.

“Deal with the Trumps of our so­ciety as well as the journalists who use the body parts of wom­en as swear words.

“Prosecute social media users who body shame women,” she proposed. Duarte wants the criminal justice system to hand down uncompromisingly high sen­tences where life terms last until death with no possibility of parole, and not in cushy prisons where cellphones and TV are allowed.

She added that hard labour should be the order of the day in prison for perpetrators of femicide and rape.

However, on the raging debate about the reinstatement of the death penalty, Duarte warned that capital punishment was not the answer.

“The outcry by women for a state of emergency as well as the death pen­alty must be seen in the context of the extreme danger women feel they are facing,” she said.

Mbuyiselo Botha, a gender activist and commissioner at the Commission for Gender Equality, said yesterday that the country should work with men to understand that women were not fair game.

He said the government did not need drastic measures, but needed to implement the laws that already existed.

Political Bureau