Is this what we want to teach our boys?

2012-01-07 18:03

It’s a shame that 17 years into our democracy we still see the barbaric, ancient and animalistic-like behaviour witnessed at the Noord Street taxi rank.

Two young women were demeaned, disrespected, humiliated and violated.

Their sin in the eyes of the men involved was the type of clothing they had on, which according to them was unacceptable.

How do we explain such behaviour from men who one would expect to understand how it feels to be humiliated because that is precisely what happened to us as men in the dark days of apartheid?

We can no longer hide behind often unexplained cultural excuses which we are told should dictate how women should dress in public.

Paul Kivel, a founders of the Oakland Men’s project in the United States, says about the cycle of violence: “We blame the victims of violence.

As men, instead of us taking responsibility for rape, we talk about how women ask for it by manipulating us or dressing provocatively.”

He reminds us that these are things we say about women: “They deserve it, they asked for it, that’s all they are good for, some of them like it.

They are too emotional, it’s for their own good. She made me do it. You can’t trust them.”

The mindset that Kivel talks about fits the views of these men who saw nothing wrong with their behaviour.

For them, the two young girls had violated so-called “traditional values” and needed to be taught a lesson they would never forget.

Is this what we want to bequeath to our boy children? Are these values that they as men would want their own children, if they have any, to live by?

Values that reduce women to nothing. Values that take away women’s dignity. Values which would inculcate in them that it is okay to unashamedly violate women without any sense of shame.

Men, we need to stand up and raise our voices by urging government in particular to take stern, uncompromising and unequivocal action against these men who can clearly be identified, using the CCTV.

Failing to do so would send the sad message that it’s okay to treat women as objects.

» Botha works with the Sonke Gender Justice Organisation

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