‘Leave schoolgirls alone’

2011-08-06 00:00

MEN must stop taking advantage of young girls for sex, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize said yesterday.

Mkhize was addressing more than 1 000 men from various areas of the province during a men’s imbizo held at Woodburn Stadium in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

The imbizo is a culmination of the “District Men’s Dialogue” series, which was held last month throughout the province and focused on culture, tradition, health, gender and law and justice.

The objective is to encourage men to take their positions in their communities and families seriously and to be role models for the youth.

Mkhize said there are problems facing communities that will not be resolved by coming up with new laws, but can only be dealt with when communities, especially men, come together to discuss them.

“When we talk about women’s rights some men think this means the emasculation or the disempowerment of men.

“This is not true, because all nations that prosper can only achieve this through mutual respect and working together of men and women.”

Mkhize said people need to come to an understanding that there are roles for everyone in society, regardless of gender.

He said young people are dying in droves because of HIV, and older men continue to solicit sexual favours in exchange for material benefits.

“Many women end up contracting the virus, even though they have never left their matrimonial home,” said the premier.

“This means that some men find themselves in situations and bring the virus back home.”

He touched on the high incidence of teenage pregnancies that result in abortions.

He said he doubts that a woman would opt for an abortion if her partner were to say, “I will come to your family and we’ll discuss how we deal with the matter”.

He observed that men used to engage various activities aimed at uplifting their families and communities, but that more men than women engage in criminal activities.

Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela said physical abuse, hijackings, armed robberies, rape and murder and other criminal activities are committed by men.

“Real men protect the vulnerable and discuss issues that might lead to unhappiness at home,” said Ndlela.

“Those who commit these crimes are not men enough.”

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