Johannesburg - There is no such thing as being "too
sensitive" when it comes to harassment, the ANC Women's League said on
This comes after President Jacob Zuma told a group of female
journalists that modern women were too quick to say they were being harassed
when men were innocently complimenting them.
"This is not being too sensitive... women have been
subjected to lots of harassment which has made them feel uncomfortable, but
that was quoted under the pretext of culture," ANCWL spokesperson Toko
Xasa told News24.
"In a modern age men need to change whether they like
it or not."
While checking his voter registration details on Saturday in
Nkandla, Zuma said, "It's a pity we live in a white man's world; you can't
even say 'Gqezu, Gqezu ntomazane! Nongenazo izinkomo uyayidla inyama'."
This was a Zulu saying loosely meaning that even if you
don't have enough money to pay lobola, you can still get married.
Zuma said if men could compliment women the way they did in
the past, his bodyguards would compliment the journalists.
"But when men compliment you innocently, you say it's
harassment. You will miss out on good men and marriage," said Zuma,
Women aware of their rights
Xasa said men needed to realise that they could no longer
just do and say anything to women.
Those who had struggled for women's rights made sure that all
women were protected and that no man can say anything that makes them feel
"Women must continue, if things make them
uncomfortable, to report them, and make it serious to be harassed," she
Nowadays women were educated and were aware of their rights.
Asked if Xasa thought the president had made the comments
innocently, she said, "I would think that in their own culture it would
tell you it's something that they grew up with. But... women nowadays have been
educated, have been made aware that if something makes you uncomfortable
"Although they used to do it and escape with murder,
but today they know what to say to women."
Xasa said engaging with Zuma on the matter would help other
"Engaging him would... make a lot of men understand
that women are not too sensitive.
"Yes we can engage him because some are still sticking
to their own culture or even if not, they continue to use the basis of culture
to defend some of the things that used to happen when in fact they were a
harassment to women," she said.