We shouldn’t need special days of No Violence Against Women and Children for men to know not to beat them or treat them as second-class citizens - their human rights are the rights of any other human being.
TOMORROW we celebrate the 61st anniversary of the women’s march to Pretoria when 20 000 women walked to the Union Buildings in protest against the passes that black South Africans were forced by law to carry to justify living in the land of their birth.
They went right to the door of the seat of power in a bid to tell the then prime minister JG Strijdom that a woman’s place was not in the kitchen, tending to her family and waiting upon her husband hand and foot, but right there in the front line of the Struggle against apartheid.
Strijdom was left in no doubt: “Wathint’ abafazi, wathint’ mbokodo” (You strike a woman, you strike a rock), they sang as they marched.
Sadly, 23 years into our liberation, it is a message we hope the Deputy Minister of Education, Mduduzi Manana, will have burnt into his subconscious this week – or any other “man” who thinks it’s okay to strike a woman or a girl, irrespective of their age or apparent provocation.
Manana slapped a woman several times at a Joburg nightclub in the early hours of Sunday. Her crime? By his own admission, she questioned his sexuality. So he beat her.
Yesterday, he issued a half-hearted apology to the nation, following a tsunami of outrage.
We would expect our political leaders to have tougher skins, far greater self-control irrespective of the provocation – especially something as irrelevant as sexual orientation in a country in which being gay is not just enshrined as a constitutional right, there is no impediment to gay marriage either.
We shouldn’t need special days of No Violence Against Women and Children for men to know not to beat them or treat them as second-class citizens – their human rights are the rights of any other human being.
There’s only one question really, just what is the ANC going to do?
We shouldn’t even have to ask.
Manana should have been suspended immediately.
Then he needs to be charged, tried, convicted – and fired.
We don’t need “men” like this in our country.
And we don’t accept his apology either.