President Cyril Ramaphosa last week inaugurated the 2021 16 Days of Activism against women and children campaign, noting that despite government’s best efforts, the scourge continues.
Speaking to Radio Islam International, Brian Sithole (Director of the One Strong Voice Foundation), and Jonas Sibanyoni (Commissioner at the HRC), sought to tease out and assess this horrendous, and only worsening problem. Sibanyoni, in 2019, unfortunately saw his daughter murdered and raped, in a tragic case of GBV and democide.
Both Sithole and Sibanyoni argued that there needs to be more focus on the perpetrators, men. They argued that the focus on women is important, but we need to understand why men commit such horrendous actions, with Sibanyoni also asserting that the courts need to do more to ensure that perpetrators are punished. “The whole focus is on victims. I strongly believe that the focus should be on the perpetrators, because we have to find out what make(s) them to do gender-based violence … And then also to try and educate the people that they should never do such a thing.”
They argued that this starts at a community level, that individuals need to be at the forefront of combating GVB, and that it can’t be government alone. Sithole likened it to the coronavirus; it’s the individual that is required to wear the mask, not the government. Further, it was argued that religious and community leaders needed to be more involved, and that more importantly men needed to stop tolerating and encouraging acts of GVB amongst themselves and friends.
Both argued that GVV should be a 365 day-year long issue, and that halting it requires individuals, communities and government to act simultaneously.