The Northern Cape MEC for Social Development, Gift van Staden, has called on men to lead the charge in the fight against gender-based violence. Picture: Supplied

Johannesburg - The Northern Cape MEC for Social Development, Gift van Staden, has called on men to lead the charge in the fight against gender-based violence.
Van Staden was talking at the launch of the provincial 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign in Carnarvon.

The campaign was launched on Sunday under the theme #HearMeToo: End Violence Against Women and Children.

Van Staden called on men to take the lead in the fight against women and child abuse.

“We call on especially men to lead the charge in protecting our women and children against these heinous acts. The government has added its voice and, in a bid to rid our society of this scourge and as an immediate intervention, has established, organised and duly elected Men’s Forums in all districts of our Province as well as a provincial structure. The men of these forums have boldly declared that not in their name will violence and crime be committed,” said Van Staden.

“We will henceforth deepen our social crime prevention initiatives by tightening the content of our community mobilisation and messaging. The provincial government has also implemented a ‘Thursdays in Black’ campaign where we call on men and women in the Province to wear black on Thursdays as a response to gender-based violence.

“Those who inflict violence on others must know they are being isolated and cannot count on other men to protect them. From now on, let all men hear the call to assume their responsibility for solving this problem.”

Van Staden also urged community members not to look the other way if they witness incidents of violence against women and children.

“I want to encourage and urge society to acknowledge that violence against women and children is not a government or criminal justice system problem, but a societal problem, and that failure to view it as such results in all efforts failing to eradicate this scourge in our communities. We must ensure mass mobilisation of all communities to promote collective responsibility in the fight to eradicate violence against women and children.

“We need a renewal of the mind. This attitude that we sometimes hold in our communities that ‘twee mense se goed word nie in gegaan nie’ must come to an end. We must ask ourselves this critical question wherever we encounter this attitude, is this the day that he is going to kill her? Let us not live with the regret of not doing something when the opportunity arose to avoid the death of an innocent person. Let us be proactive in dealing with this violence when we encounter it.”

Van Staden also pointed out that social ills such as substance abuse are often at the helm of these incidents.

He advised community members to abstain from substance abuse.

“Many of these crimes also have as their basis alcohol and drug abuse. It has been found that there is a stronger relationship between high rates of acute alcohol intoxication and violence than those where drinking occurs more moderately. Let not the misguided enthusiasm of one’s youth rob one of a future that is filled with many opportunities.”

He added that the eradication of this scourge requires input from everyone in society.

“Let this period not be about empty rhetoric. We need to ask ourselves the question, what is it that we can do as community members, and as men in particular, in order to make our homes and our communities safer? We can start by making our mothers, our wives, our sisters, our daughters and our neighbours aware of legislation that has been put in place to protect those to whom we owe our being.

“I am optimistic that working together, men and women, side by side, we will create that society where women can walk freely in the street and children can play safely outside with no fear of being attacked.

“Let us continue to speak against this scourge and build on the successes of the last few years,” Van Staden concluded.

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