Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Ipeleng Bogopane-Zulu says women also contribute to gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) – a scourge that continues to haunt and kill women and children in South Africa on a daily basis.
"Let’s not deal with women as they are only victims, they are also contributors," Bogopane-Zulu said during her keynote address on Wednesday at a conference titled "Prevention of Violence against women and girls in Southern Africa - from Evidence to Action".
The conference is taking place at the Indaba Hotel in Johannesburg.
To further support her view, Bogopane-Zulu cited the plight of teenage fathers in South Africa, who she said "are denied access to their children".
"Teenage fathers are sometimes denied to see their children. That anger builds up and they will take it out on my daughter one day.
"That child would have been the element that softened and went to softer part of that boy," she added.
Bogopane-Zulu further said that a it was a problem when boys were raised in a single-parent household, where they were are not afforded the right to know their father.
"What does it take to just say your father is so and so, no matter what happened to the two of you. As women, we are contributors in this instance because we raise angry boys - that is when women contribute to GBV," she said to a room full of delegates from all over the world.
She concluded by stating that it was time for all to acknowledge that "we are all equally guilty".
'We are not just victims'
"It is time, in the same way HIV went to the core/deepest values that we believed in – we gave it our all. It is time for us to understand that femicide and GBV... we are equally guilty, we all contribute one way or another to the status we find ourselves in. We must take that into consideration when we create our programmes," she said.
Following her address, News24 approached Bogopane-Zulu outside the Indaba Hotel ask her to clarify her remarks.
When asked if she meant to say that women are also contributors to GBVF, she responded: "Yes, that was a very accurate statement."
"Look if you want to deal with GBV, there are no holy cows. Women give birth to boys, and 70% of households in South Africa are headed by women. The question we should be asking ourselves is why do our boys come out as violent as they are if they are raised by women. What is it that we are not doing right as women?" she clarified.
When asked to further explain the link between women-headed households and GBVF, she responded: "I meant what I said, when I said as women we are not just victims. The problem is that you want to stay on the issue of men; we are holding men accountable. I made it very clear, I said women don’t rape, don’t kill, don’t beat themselves up, but as women we must also take part of the responsibility in our part in this."
In just the past few months, South Africa has been left reeling from a number of murders of women and children.
Last month, a 21-year-old Limpopo student was killed after a man gained entry through the window of her rented room. The Capricorn TVET College student, who enrolled in Mokomene, was stabbed 52 times.
The murder of the UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana at a post office enraged the country, prompting women to ask #AmINext?
Mrwetyana was murdered by Luyanda Botha - a stranger to her - while she was attempting to pick up a parcel from the post office.
Botha will serve a life sentence for the murder of the 19-year old, two life sentences on both counts of rape, and five years for defeating the course of justice, News24 reported.
'Baby Lee' Jegels
South African Boxing Champion, Leighandre "Baby Lee" Jegels was shot and killed at the end of Women's Month, allegedly by her police officer boyfriend, while commuting with her mother in East London, where she lived.
Jegels is reported to have had a protection order against him at the time of her death.
The conference will conclude on Thursday.