10/12/2012 – ACDP calls on men to protect women against violence

Attitudes of South Africa’s men towards women must change

Johannesburg December 9th, 2012 – ACDP representative in the National Assembly as well as Parliament’s Justice Portfolio committee Steve Swart has called on South Africa’s men to take up a protective role regarding women.

Swart’s comments come at the closing of the 16 Days of Activism during which the party has highlighted 16 different issues relating to Violence Against Women (VAW) in its Vikiela (isiZulu: Protect) campaign.

Swart, who has worked tirelessly in on the “Human Trafficking Bill”, which has yet to become law, believes South African men’s attitudes towards women need to change.

“Violence against women is largely perpetrated because men regard women as possessions and sexual objects. It is this attitude which must change,” he said.

Violence against women takes many forms. The16 issues highlighted by ACDP include trafficking, sexual harassment, Child Abuse, Sugar Daddies, VAW/Abuse by teachers, Substance abuse and VAW, HIV/Aids as a result of VAW, Prostitution, Domestic Violence, Gogo Rape, Corrective Rape, Rape by Male Nurses, Ukhuthwala, Rape and Prison Rape. The issue of men’s attitudes concludes the Vikiela awareness campaign.

“Men can play the most active part in preventing violence against women. This is not a women’s issue, it is a man’s issue. VAW is interlaced with gender equality, and deeply engrained in the attitudes of men,” Swart said.

“Good men need to speak up every time they hear a woman being disrespected, objectified and violated even by words.”

“We can no longer enshrine a patriarchal culture nor condone violence with attitudes at the expense of our women,” Swart said.

Judge Albie Sachs has identified Violence Against Women as a brutal form of enforcing patriarchal domination.

“Many men in South Africa do not condone violence against women and children.  However, they remain silent,” Swart said. “We as a party are advocating that South Africa’s men take an active role in changing the attitudes of their peers.”

Research by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) has shown that all male peer groups, which condone violence against women, are more likely to commit such violence. The SAMRC report on men’s attitudes details 25% of men who admit to having committed rape, and 25% of those say they have attacked multiple victims. These men tend to derive their attitudes from what their peers say. Men who don’t believe in gender equality are more inclined to use violence against women.

In South Africa, there are many patriarchal cultures that condone or perpetuate violence against women.

“That is why it is so important for men to speak up,” Swart said.

Men need to take responsibility, and realise that the only thing that results in a sexual assault, a rape, a woman being beaten, children being abused or any Violence Against Women, is the perpetrator’s decision to do so.

Most perpetrators of violence against women and children do not see anything wrong with what they have done.  The SAMRC research shows that men use denial, or slang and vague terms to distance themselves from acts of violence against women that they have perpetrated.

“We must tackle these deeply engrained social attitudes,” Swart said. Until men realise that their actions cannot be justified and that these behaviours are unacceptable, we will not see a difference.

“Every man has a women in his life that he would like to see protected, so let us men see all women as our sister, our mother, our daughter, our wife,” Swart concluded.

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