The Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, has warned that high levels gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) are undermining South Africa’s efforts to build a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united society.

Delivering the keynote address on the last day of this year’s Men’s Parliament in the National Council of Provinces chamber, the Minister said the call for a violence-free South Africa must be met with an urgent response from all of society, including men and boys. “The scourge of gender-based violence and femicide continues to undermine our efforts of building a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united South Africa. We must strengthen, accelerate and amplify a responsive men and boy’s movement to fully eradicate the scourge,” the Minister said.

The theme of this year’s Men’s Parliament was “Takuwani Riime: Institutionalising a responsive men’s movement”. The Minister believes initiatives such as this have an important role in taking the conversation on GBVF to spaces where the topic is still ignored or avoided. “While it remains true that men are the main perpetrators of gender-based violence and femicide, we are also witnessing a concerning trend of boys leading GBV-related crimes, such as rape.

“In addition, we are also witnessing a rise in child-on-child violence, including bullying, fights and murders in schools, cyber-bullying and child-on-child rape. Women, children and LGBTQIA+ persons are being abused, assaulted and murdered in our country every day at the hands of men,” said Minister Nkoana-Mashabane.

She commended the Men’s Parliament initiative and said conversations about preventing GBVF are the start of accepting responsibility. Men must take action to change perceptions of masculinity from toxic to positive masculinity. “We have to begin by addressing the normalisation of patriarchal norms, challenging the reinforcement of social and gender norms, defining and promoting healthy expressions of masculinity and femininity, and having a zero tolerance approach to homophobic and transphobic sentiments.

“Equally, we cannot ignore how toxic masculinity is a driver in incidents of violence committed by men against other men. We can no longer pretend that toxic masculinity is not a threat to all of our livelihoods,” the Minister said.

She said the Men’s Parliament must be supported, as it is an opportunity to build greater social connectedness, provide spaces for healing and support healthy forms of masculinity.

Sakhile Mokoena
23 November 2022