25 November 2007

South Africa: Men Take Stance Against Women, Child Abuse

Bloemfontein — Men countrywide have taken a stance against the abuse of women and children and illustrated their support and commitment in the fight against those vulnerable by participating in the Million Men's march in Bloemfontein.

The Million Men's march is one of the key elements of this year's 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, which kicks off on Sunday and ends on 10 December.

In the Free State and in most parts of the country, towns came to a standstill as marchers took to the streets. The marchers, led by a police brass band, handed over a memorandum to Premier Beatrice Marshoff who received the memorandum on behalf of the provincial government.

Provincial and Local Government Deputy Minister Nomatyala Hangana said she was satisfied with the number of men who participated in the march, saying that it showed commitment from men.

She further said people needed to develop healthy relationships to contribute in curbing the violence perpetrated against women and children. "People must have the right to interfere when one is being abused," she said.

One of the marchers and a reformed abuser, 49-year-old Dithlapi Rakubu, from Botshabelo in Bloemfontein, told BuaNews on Sunday that women deserve to be respected and taken care of.

"It's barbaric to abuse helpless people especially women and children. As a nation, we must be proud of our mothers, we are who we are today because of them," said Mr Rakubu.

His sentiments were reiterated by Evelyn Mphana (61) who said abusing women and children was appalling. "It's time men realise the importance of mothers and their role in society.

"Government must introduce harsher sentences against the abusers of women and children," she said.

Efforts have been made by government and its partners to translate the campaign into a sustainable 365 Days of Action.

Government also hopes that through Million Men's March, men will be encouraged to interact and discuss the violence among them and find mechanisms to actively discourage this behavior.

Commenting on violence directed on women and children, Ms Hangana said every person deserved to be treated with respect.

"Every person deserves to be treated with respect and human dignity as prescribed by our Constitution," she said.

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