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Men, take a long, hard look at yourselves

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“We embed such legacies of terror in the faces and hearts of our children that they move out into the world carrying it with them, multiplying it"

MEC Lebogang Motlhaping

THE NORTHERN Cape MEC for Transport, Safety and Liaison, Lebogang Motlhaping, said that society and communities have fallen short of making the safety of children and women a priority.

Motlhaping was leading a march as part of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign in Galeshewe yesterday.

The MEC said that a vicious cycle of violence has erupted in the privacy of homes where women are targeted by those who are supposed to protect them.

“Each and every one of us is the culmination of a complex coming together of genes, upbringing, culture, context, education, beliefs and values. Some of us come from backgrounds where women are regarded as mere commodities and entities to serve the ego and needs of a man. Some of us witnessed violence on a daily basis and to such an extent those acts of violence have normalised. Seeing someone hurt or hurting someone has become so commonplace we do not even have the good sense of empathy in the face of suffering,” Motlhaping said.

He pointed out that men were at the forefront of these atrocities.

“Behind the curtain that divides the kitchen from the bedroom we make our women slaves to our aggression and we beat them into submission with our weapons. When we feel like they have not learned their lesson, we beat our daughters and even our sons into submission. We make the weak pay for all the places we cannot assert ourselves in. It is a sick reality that we make our families suffer for our failings as men and fathers. We walk around with a lordship borne from the happenstance of us being male and, rather than protecting those entrusted to us, we use it as guns and knives,” Motlhaping said.

He said that men’s actions have a ripple effect on the next generation.

“We embed such legacies of terror in the faces and hearts of our children that they move out into the world carrying it with them, multiplying it. We create societies where we do not value or respect life. We do not stop in our homes and our communities, we insist even harder to debase the integrity of our daughters in our schools and our sisters in places of work, by relegating them into sexual objects, existing for our own grim pleasure and the force of our own will.”

He said that patriarchal roles need to be erased in order to put everyone on a equal platform.

“We must, going forward, make sure that our programming and interventions are gender responsive and promote women-centred economic development. At the heart of it, we must embark on targeted, social behaviour change programmes to address patriarchal values and norms and structural drivers of gender-based violence.

“We need to look at some of the sectors that bear the brunt of secondary victimisation such as at our police stations and in courts. The LGBTI community has a long, protracted and wretched history of being at the receiving end of violence, sexual and hate crimes with a system that mocks and further debases them when they muster up the courage to report. We cannot tolerate a situation where we, through our own prejudices and ignorance, humiliate and demean fellow South Africans just because we do not understand or approve of them.

“Men, take a long, hard look at yourselves and, upon finding that you are either instigating or condoning violence in any form, call yourself back to order and follow your sacred task of protecting your people,” Motlhaping said.