GENDER-BASED community organisations have cited gender imbalance as being at the core of the escalating rate of abused women and children in the country.
Marking the end of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign in Sobantu last Thursday event organiser and founder of Thembalabantu Children’s Foundation Nonhlanhla Mazibuko said: “There is still a high rate of women who are abused and raped and we strongly believe it is linked to gender imbalances.
“By nature men are viewed as the stronger sex which gives them power and authority over women. Women stay in abusive relationships because they feel the need to be submissive to men, which should not be the case.
“We need to break the cycle of violence and abuse by raising confident women who do not need any validation from men to recognise their worth.”
Lihle Dlamini from Phephisa Community Based Organisation (CBO), which deals with sexual violence and rape, said the problem starts at home where boy children are raised differently from girl children.
“It starts with parents teaching their boy children that they are superior than their sisters, which makes them bossy. This has a huge impact on their adult life as they tend to believe they are superior and are more entitled to privileges than women. Parents should treat their children equally.”
Thandi Zondi also from Phephisa said another contributing factor is that while many women are in the streets marching and educating people about gender violence, very few men take part in these campaigns.
“Most men alienate themselves from these campaigns because naturally they keep to themselves. This even extends to the home environment, men should be friends with their boy children so that they look up to them and even share issues that affect them.
“Most perpetrators of abuse are men who have not been given attention by their parents from a young age. Even in terms of testing for HIV, most men do not go for testing and only know about their status when the other partner has tested. We cannot fight the scourge of abuse alone, as men should join forces by being more involved in their communities,” said Zondi.
Dlamini said churches have a huge role to play in preaching about anti-abuse as it affects everyone.
“Churches still shy away from speaking about abuse. There are even scriptures in the Bible that speak about abuse and rape, but which are never spoken about.”