Bongani Baloyi says the government’s failure to address the underlying causes of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is troubling and further perpetuates a culture of femicide against women and girls.
He called on government officials to embark on a collaborative relationship with traditional leaders “who can help eradicate GBV in their communities by using their influence and authority to challenge harmful cultural norms and practices that perpetuate violence against women and children.”
The leader of Xiluva made the statement as the country begins the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign.
In his weekly newsletter to the nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa noted that one of the reasons GBV continues is that there is a culture of ambivalence among men who see crimes against women and children as a ‘private matter’ or a ‘family matter’.
“We have long maintained that interventions aimed at eradicating gender-based violence in our society must focus on prevention.
“If we are to raise a nation of men who are positive role models, who take care of their families, who exhibit positive masculinity and who would not countenance hurting a woman or a girl, we must work with young men,” Ramaphosa said.
Government, he added, has been engaging with civil society, academia and researchers, traditional leaders, youth organisations, the faith community and private sector on the issue of prevention.
Meanwhile, Baloyi further emphasized that traditional leaders are well equipped to use their position to challenge harmful gender stereotypes and promote positive masculinity, encourage men to be allies in the fight against GBV.
“This engagement can help ensure that interventions are respectful of existing cultural norms, while still promoting gender equality and safeguarding the rights and safety of individuals,” he stated.
From an grassroots perspective, Baloyi urged the national education system to prioritize awareness programs that emphasize respect, equality, and gender sensitivity.
In his view, these programs “can play a crucial role in shaping the attitudes and behaviors of learners by teaching them the importance of treating others with fairness and dignity.”
“By promoting inclusivity and challenging gender stereotypes, schools can create an environment that fosters empathy and understanding, ultimately reducing instances of violence and fostering healthy relationships among students,” Baloyi maintained.