South Africa: Men and Boys Must Be At Centre of Protecting Women

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille says to entrench national unity and tackle gender-based violence, men and boys need to take a lead in protecting women and girls against abuse.

She said this when she participated in a debate on the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children in the National Assembly.

Tuesday's debate took place under the theme "enough is enough".

The debate takes place in a year that has seen many women fall victim to murder and rape.

On Monday Aubrey Manaka appeared in the Molemole Magistrates Court in Limpopo, in connection with Capricorn TVET College student Precious Ramabulana. Manaka is accused of raping and stabbing the 21-year old 52 times.

Last month, Uyinene Mrwetyana's killer Luyanda Botha was handed three life sentences after confessing to a spine-chilling murder of the former UCT student at a post office in Claremont.

"Key to national unity is the protecting of women and girls. Men and boys should be partners with women to build families in our country and not abuse women and children. Yes we hear a lot about statistics today," said the Minister.

De Lille stressed the importance of building a South Africa where women feel safe.

"Statistics are important but we can repeat them and repeat them, but we have to build a South Africa where our women feel safe, safe in their homes, safe in churches and my message to women too is pain is not normal."

She further urged women to walk away from abusive, toxic relationships and to seek help at shelters.

"If you have pain, you must walk away from an abusive relationship and go to a women's shelter."

Earlier on in the debate, ANC MP Teliswa Mgweba said women empowerment should be part of a strategy to fight gender-based violence.

"Our belief is that the subjudication of women is rooted in the socio-economic design in our societies. Therefore if we are to fully ensure that women occupy their rightful place in society, at the centre of that, must be the economic empowerment of women."

There were calls for a Parliamentary oversight committee to oversee the GBV action plan.

Meanwhile, the IFP's Liezl van der Merwe called on Parliament to set up a stand-alone oversight committee to oversee the implementation of the action plan on gender-based violence.

She said that about 1000 children were murdered in the last financial year while as many as 500 died as a result of abuse and neglect.

"South Africa's femicide rate is more than five times higher than the global average and in the past financial year the murder of women increased by 11%. This frightening reality should keep us all up at night," said Van Der Merwe.

The IFP, she said is of the belief that a stand-alone Parliamentary oversight committee can help in the fight against femicide.

"To this end, the IFP believes that a new stand-alone Parliamentary oversight committee to oversee the new strategic plan to fight gender-based violence is needed. Crime and lawlessness in South Africa is a national emergency. The body count cannot continue to rise."

DA MP Nazley Khan Sharif called for the activism against gender-based violence to be a constant fight.

"It is literally rough in these streets. If we take anything away from 2019, let it be to ensure that we keep up the same energy towards gender-based violence and femicide everyday, 365 days, through the years until we see change in our society."

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