25 November 2011
As South Africa prepares to mark 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, human rights activists have called on men in the Eastern Cape to stand up against rape, “corrective rape” and child molestation.
Addressing a small crowd at a men’s indaba in East London on Wednesday, the founding member of gender-based anti-violence NGO Men for Change, Nkosohlanga Mkonjwa, said socialisation and the roles of girls and women within the family dynamic needed to change if a shift in society’s attitudes towards women was to happen.
Change in attitudes called for
“Our women and girls need to be more empowered in their roles in a family,” Mkonjwa said. “The belief that ‘Johnny must kick the ball while Suzie sweeps the floor’ creates an environment in which men feel superior to women, and this manifests itself in society where men believe they can do with women what they please.”
Human rights activist and provincial legislature member Nomsisi Bata said that as long as women could walk the streets at night without the fear of being raped, they had not yet tasted liberation in the true sense of the word.
Bata urged young men to “stand up tall like real men should” and champion the struggle against women and child abuse in society.
‘It’s up to the youth’
“If anyone can get the message across to the perpetrators of these crimes, it’s the youth,” she said. “They are the ones who can relate to these people because most of [the perpetrators] are in their age group.”
Eastern Cape Men’s Sector NGO chairperson Reverend Lulama Ntshingwa expressed concern over the high failure rate of the province’s men’s organisations due to lack of funding.
He said, however, this would not deter their organisations’ fight against women and child abuse in the country.
“We’ll be out in full force during the [16 Days of Activism] celebrations in Mqanduli on 25 November to show our unwavering support for women and children.”
Referring to the phenomenon of ritual murders, Ntshingwa said: “The realities of our social constructs and moral fibre that define society have become quite scary. We can’t live in a society where we have our women’s and children’s private parts being sliced off just to make a quick buck.”
He said men needed to take a firmer stance against those who commit such atrocities by making their voices heard.