Gender-based violence: Mabuza says 'men must change'

Deputy President David Mabuza has called on South African men to change to stop the scourge of gender-based violence in the country.

"No nation can succeed if it socialises its young boys to disrespect their mothers and disrespect their sisters," Mabuza said in the National Assembly, where he was answering questions on Wednesday.

"At the root of gender-based violence is patriarchy. Men are central to this problem... It's a problem that men must confront."

"I think men must change," he said.

"Until men recognise women as human beings that have got feelings that have got rights that enjoy the same freedoms as men, gender-based violence will end. There is something fundamentally wrong that men must attend to. Men must change."

He was responding to ANC MP Phumzile Bhengu's question on what the government was doing about the scourge of gender-based violence.

"Crimes against women and children that include abductions, human trafficking, murder, rape and other 'contact' crimes remain a reality for far too many in our country, and this scourge is a serious indictment against all of us," Mabuza said.

"We are concerned that sexual assault cases have increased by 8.2%, according to the recent figures published by the SAPS (SA Police Service) yesterday (Tuesday). Rape has increased by 0.5%."

"All of us, especially men, have a responsibility to make every effort to ensure that such crimes do not go unreported and unpunished."

Mabuza added that the government's response to the violence and abuse of women and children called for an "integrated and multi-faceted approach".

"As a society, we need to collectively deal with the social and cultural root causes that breed gender stereotypes which continue to relegate women and girls to the bottom of the social hierarchy."

He said all sectors of society, including traditional leaders, must work together to promote values that respect women as equal citizens who are entitled to all rights, freedoms, privileges and economic opportunities which men enjoy.

"It is all about behaviour change. We need men in society to stand up and become agents of positive change."

He listed several government programmes aimed at addressing the problem.

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