28 February 2013

South Africa: Gender Violence - 'No One Group to Blame'

Photo: GCIS
South Africa's Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana

No single cultural group can or should be blamed for gender-based violence in the country, the Presidency said on Wednesday, after members of South Africa's Afrikaner community criticised remarks made by a Cabinet minister in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

"We wish to assure the Afrikaner community and all South Africans that government's commitment to non-racialism and diversity, as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic, remains unwavering," the Presidency said in a statement.

"The contribution of Afrikaner males in the fight against gender-based violence, and also generally to the building of a united, caring and prosperous South Africa, is as valuable as that of all South Africans."

The campaign to fight violence against women and children "must be waged by all South Africans, black and white," the Presidency said, adding: "The nation should focus energies on finding solutions."

Minister apologises, retracts comment

Separately, Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana apologised on Wednesday for her comments to ABC, acknowledging that they may have offended some members of the South African community.

During a recent interview with ABC on violence in South Africa, stemming from the Oscar Pistorius case, the minister reportedly said: "Young Afrikaner men are brought up in the Calvinist religion believing that they own a woman, they own a child, they own everything and therefore they can take that life because they own it."

Xingwana reportedly added in the interview that "we [black South Africans] have cultural differences as well in our own communities, where we have women who are forced into marriage, and we are dealing with all those issues."

On Wednesday, Xingwana said that, through her comments, she had "sought to convey the message that, as a country we have emerged from a very violent past and that some tend to use cultural and religious beliefs to justify gender inequality and abuse.

"I would, accordingly, like to retract these remarks and apologise unconditionally for them. I value national unity and social cohesion, and will continue to work tirelessly towards nation-building."

The Presidency said it had noted and was seeking clarity on the comments attributed to Xingwana.

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