Men and women march through the streets of the Pretoria CBD yesterday to commemorate Women’s Month and denounce gender-based violence. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)
Men and women march through the streets of the Pretoria CBD yesterday to commemorate Women’s Month and denounce gender-based violence. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Gender-based violence highlighted at Women’s Month walk

By Goitsemang Tlhabye Time of article published Aug 31, 2021

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Pretoria - Families and society at large have an important role in fighting gender-based violence (GBV).

That’s the message from the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa, who has called for a societal effort to deal with the scourge.

Mthethwa said yesterday it was important to start looking at GBV from a family level and how the boy child was being raised.

He was speaking after a 1.7km walk around the Pretoria CBD to highlight the problem of GBV as Women's Month draws to a close.

The initiative, themed “A Walk Fit for Purpose”, saw the minister, residents and organisations running empowerment programmes.

Mthethwa said it was unfortunate that the country was mourning the death of yet another horrific femicide victim, Fort Hare student Nosicelo Mtebeni, who was murdered and dismembered, allegedly by her boyfriend.

Minister Nathi Mthethwa addresses participants during the march, held under the theme A Walk Fit for Purpose. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

“Fundamentally, the problem we are dealing with is that of power relations and ultimately patriarchy which is as painful and as pernicious as racism because those who are perpetrators do not appreciate the pain caused because they were raised in a particular way,” said the minister.

He said that due to the fact that perpetrators of violence were becoming younger and there was a reported failure by the justice system, his department had put in place a comprehensive programme to address the problem.

“We want to deepen awareness, encourage public participation and galvanise all of us, especially men, to take a stand against gender-based violence and resist its persistence in our society.”

The first programme, called Go Lekane, focused on the type of conversations fathers had with their boys. Through this, Mthethwa said they wanted to ensure that the boy child was groomed in a manner to defend and love his sister.

Working through the Baqhawafazi programme, survivors of GBV have an opportunity to speak out and make the country aware of the magnitude of the problem.

Lastly, the Silapha programme will deal with the mental health of artists and athletes.

Mthethwa said that ultimately it was up to society to change the way young boys and young girls are raised.

“It starts with the kind of domestic chores which we seem to reserve for the boy and the girl. One is given the freedom to got to play, while the girl is given a job to be a deputy cook and be responsible.

“It starts with the small things that send messages that a boy is to be cleaned up after.”

Cheryl Zondi, 25, a musician and rape survivor, said it had taken eight years for her to summon up the courage to speak up about what had happened to her.

Zondi said she had been inspired by the 20 000 women who took part in the 1956 Women’s March against apartheid’s pass laws to find the strength to expose her abuser.

“Those heroes didn’t fight for our rights so that we could continue hiding away in shame or shrink ourselves for the world's convenience. Our stories are hard to tell and difficult to listen to, and they make people uncomfortable.

“But it is important that we continue creating this discomfort so much so that perpetrators of abuse are uncomfortable with perpetuating violence. We must use our stories to create a constant state of discomfort so that these conversations continue even after Women’s Month.”

Zondi also slammed the justice system for failing survivors, as had happened in her case with numerous delays and challenges.

“In my own case I have had a court case hanging over my head which started when I was 22 and continued years later. Yet the thought of watching the man who humiliated me and saw umfazi in a 14-year-old walking away free tears me apart.

“Our country is in tatters and will continue to be if our pain is viewed as nothing more than entertainment or another headline.”

Pretoria News

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