Men, take responsibility to end gender violence - Ramaphosa

2017-07-30 21:32
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a keynote address during the official renaming ceremony of the Nelson Mandela University at the Missionvale Campus in Port Elizabeth. (Lulama Zenzile, Gallo Images, Die Burger, file)

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a keynote address during the official renaming ceremony of the Nelson Mandela University at the Missionvale Campus in Port Elizabeth. (Lulama Zenzile, Gallo Images, Die Burger, file)

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Johannesburg - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says the root cause of violence against women is unchallenged patriarchal culture, and it is up to men to take responsibility to change it.

Ramaphosa addressed the Rhema Bible Church on Sunday during a special sermon on no violence against women and children, launching a campaign which trended under the hashtag #NotInMyName.

The African National Congress presidential candidate said it was time South Africa admitted that the scourge had become an epidemic, borne of an unnatural relationship of domination by South African men over women.

"Violence against women and children resembles an epidemic. It has spread through society, sparing no social group or class," Ramaphosa told the congregation.

"It shows no sign of abating. The sense we get, whether true or not, is that the problem is getting worse."

READ: #NotInMyName march calls for men to stand against violence against women

'Generational' views

Violence against women has been spread through society by attitudes and behaviours, he said.

"Gender-based violence is not caused by a virus. It is not transmitted through coughing or physical contact, but it can certainly be spread.

"It is spread in the same way that attitudes and modes of behaviour are transmitted. No man is born believing that he has dominion over women.

"Instead, this view is handed down from generation to generation, and amplified through social custom, culture and popular media."

He said it was those implied notions that have arranged a society where men occupy most positions of authority and responsibility, earn more and receive more recognition.

"This arrangement, which we know as patriarchy, is not natural. It is constructed by people - and it can be taken apart by people."

He called on churches and other faith-based groups across the country to take up the fight, as it had done during apartheid.

"As we have often done before, we turn to the church to guide society on the path of righteousness.

"During the worst days of apartheid, we turned to the church for hope and courage as we fought a righteous struggle for a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, just and prosperous South Africa.

"We turned to the Church - and to other faith-based groupings - because we believed that God had made all people - black and white, male and female - in His image."

'Reject blessers'

Gender-based violence, by its nature, was hidden and needed more than crime fighting strategies to solve, said Ramaphosa.

"Too often, when children are abused, we call family meetings instead of reporting a crime. When our brothers maim their wives, we call family meetings.

"We allow perpetrators to escape without remorse, repentance or justice. That needs to change."

An act of violence is a deliberate and brutal act of aggression and is a violation of rights, Ramaphosa argued.

"It should not be hidden away. Perpetrators should be held to account. The survivor should be protected, supported and empowered."

South Africans should reject the idea of women as possessions of men and resist the practice of "blessers".

The time had come for all to speak with one voice and take a stand.

"In working to end violence against women and children, we need to ensure that men are centrally involved. Men need to organise themselves in a sustained campaign against gender-based violence.

"The church must take responsibility, men must take responsibility and I must take responsibility.

"By becoming agents of change, men can not only help liberate women from oppression, but also liberate themselves as perpetrators of inhumane savagery," said Ramaphosa.

Read more on:    cyril ramaphosa  |  johannesburg  |  crime  |  gender rights

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