The fight against gender-based violence (GBV) requires a multi-pronged approach to ensure that women don’t find themselves with no other choice but to stay in abusive relationships.
Deputy President David Mabuza said this when he responded to oral questions from Members of Parliament at the National Assembly on Wednesday.
“Our response to violence and abuse of women and children calls for an integrated and a multifaceted approach.
“As a society, we need to collectively deal with social and cultural root causes that breed gender stereotypes which continue to relegate women and girls to the bottom of the social hierarchy.
“No nation can succeed if it socialises its young boys to disrespect their mothers and disrespect their sisters. All sectors of the society, including traditional leaders, must work together to inculcate a set of values that respect women as equal citizens who are entitled to all rights, to all freedoms and privileges and economic opportunities which men enjoy,” he said.
He said government was implementing several interventions through several departments.
He said through the Department of Social Development Men’s Care and Men as Champions of Change Programmes, government is galvanising men to shift their attitudes, to change their behaviour and become change agents in communities.
“We need men in society to stand up and become agents of positive change. As government, we are joining hands with the men’s sector … to champion the change that focuses on building social values of respect and protection of women and children,” he said.
The Department of Basic Education’s girls and boys education movement, Mabuza said, uses learners to promote positive values and behaviour, human rights, dignity for all as well as respect between girls and boys
“To highlight the plight of young women who are in tertiary institutions, the Department of Higher Education embarked on its sexual and gender-based violence dialogue in institutions of higher learning and TVET campuses ‘to raise awareness and deal decisively with gender-based violence faced by students and staff members’.”
Mabuza said the Department of Women continues to rollout social campaigns and community dialogues to promote and raise awareness on socio-economic issues that continue to keep women subjugated to violence and impoverishment.
“As equal citizens, young girls must have access to quality education.
“For women to be free, they must access economic empowerment opportunities so that they are not perpetually dependent on men, even if it means tolerating a burden of abusive relationships.
“More importantly, our criminal justice system must provide the necessary protection to women and children who are subjected to violence and abuse. Young women must be empowered to make decisions that reduce their vulnerability to HIV infection and violence,” he said.
He said victims of violence and abuse must receive protection psychosocial support.
“For victims of violence, government has established Thuthuzela Care Centres to provide support provide assistance to victims of rape and gender-based violence.
“These Thuthuzela Care Centres are multi-disciplinary in approach that pulls together a basket of services provided by various departments and agencies under one roof to ensure that victims provided with a holistic support within a short space of time.
“These centres provide a one-stop hospital based package of services for survivors of sexual violence. Services provided include among others, medical assistance, legal and psychological management support. Across all provinces,” he said.