‘Treat women with respect’

2019-09-17 06:01
Kenneth Petersen told boys that if they mix with the wrong crowd they could end up in jail or even die. PHOTO: siphesihle notwabaza

Kenneth Petersen told boys that if they mix with the wrong crowd they could end up in jail or even die. PHOTO: siphesihle notwabaza

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Believing that “prevention is better than cure”, Rylands High School is inviting guest speakers to talk to their learners about gender-based violence and other social ills on an ongoing basis.

The boys and girls attended separate talks during an assembly held on Monday 9 September.

Teachers Ebrahiem Latief and Angelo Adams, who organised the talks, said they want to teach the boys from a young age to treat girls and women with respect.

Addressing the learners, Latief urged them to say “enough is enough”. He said “it is time for action”.

He encouraged the boys to speak up and to act if they saw their female classmates being abused.

“It must not only be personal when it is happening to your mother or sister. Stop it even if it is happening to someone you do not know,” he said.

Kenneth Petersen, a business consultant from Claremont, spoke about men’s behaviour towards women.

“It is not okay to hit a woman. You have to stop other guys from doing it and also influence others to never do it.”

Petersen, who has had martial arts training for the past 20 years, said just because you knew how to hit someone did not give you the right to do so.

He said he had never hit anyone because it was not the right thing to do, regardless of gender.

Caroline Peters, a community activist and a director of Ilitha Labantu and 1000 Women One Voice, both registered non-profit organisations (NGO), also spoke to the learners.

The NGOs work with survivors of domestic abuse.

Ilitha Labantu manages a shelter while 1000 Women One Voice does awareness campaigns around issues such as domestic violence.

Peters called the learners “young men” because, she said, they were tomorrow’s leaders.

She urged them not to associate with men who didn’t respect women.

“If your friend is speaking badly about women, call him out. If you laugh, you are equally responsible,” she explained.

She also encouraged the learners to talk about challenges that may cross their path, for example, sexual abuse.

She said they must banish the idea that “men don’t cry”.

“I know a lot of young men who have been sexually abused. But they do not want to speak up. You must speak up. Allow yourselves to cry and seek help,” she said.

The message was well received by the boys.

After having listened to the speakers. the deputy chairperson of the representative council of students (RCL), Nu’maan Adams, vowed to treat girls differently.

The Grade 11 learner admitted he had witnessed countless incidents of girls being ridiculed by boys but had never acted to stop them.

“I have now learned that women must be treated with respect and that we must not speak badly to them,” said the 17-year-old.

For Shaheem Jalgaonkar, his change in behaviour would begin in class.

He confessed that he had disrespected his female teachers in the past.

He vowed he would act differently going forward.

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