Home Opinion and Features Respect for women must be fostered at home

Respect for women must be fostered at home

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Various organisations are voicing outrage and social media initiatives like #AmINext highlight the horrific femicide rate in this country

Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

IT IS AN unfortunate and undeniable fact of life that far too many men have no respect for women.

This is borne out in the daily reports of women being beaten and killed, women going missing only to turn up killed, and women being raped.

It is also an inescapable fact that although strangers are involved in some cases, in too many instances, the men responsible are known to the women – boyfriend, husband, boss, colleague or relative.

So where are our women safe? Not at work, not at home, not in the street, and certainly not in the post office.

The problem evidently has its genesis in our homes, where we bring up our boys believing that they have an undeniable claim to women and their bodies.

And this is where the process of changing this mindset must start.

Various organisations are voicing outrage and social media initiatives like #AmINext highlight the horrific femicide rate in this country.

But women continue to be raped and killed, and this situation is unlikely to change unless the situation at home changes.

Many boys have no permanent father figure in their lives and no positive male role model to look up to.

They grow up without learning how to handle conflict, how to conduct themselves in a relationship, and certainly without learning how to handle rejection.

Instead, they grow up believing that women are their property and that once they have declared their affections, the woman has no choice in the matter.

Some schools are taking it upon themselves to educate their boys in this regard, but the reality is that these attitudes are unlikely to change soon among adults, which leaves women vulnerable.

Women can correctly argue that they should be free to do as they please without fear of molestation, but we are not living in that utopia.

Women should not be prisoners in their homes, but we must still ask them to be pragmatic about where they go, when they go, and who with.

Make use of technologies available to call for help, to let friends and family know where they are, and learn to defend themselves until that far-off day when the South African man views them as his equal and not his possession.