Men, join the march to end abuse
Urgently putting an end to violence against women and children in the country requires all South Africans to follow in the footsteps of both former president Nelson Mandela and struggle activist Mama Albertina Sisulu. These two leaders fought for the democracy we enjoy today, but sadly women and children are still subjected to violence and abuse.
That one in three women in the poorest households experience physical violence is an indictment on us as a nation. For 50 000 women to have reported sexual offences in 2016/17 is just the tip of the iceberg because most did not live to tell the story.
In honour of both icons, government and its social partners will on July 10 hold a national #100MenMarch to mobilise men to act against the abuse of women and children. The level and intensity of abuse is unacceptable, and as citizens we dare not be indifferent. The violence impacts on communities, as it often spills into schools and workplaces.
The #100MenMarch will start at Church Square at 10am and end on the southern lawns of the Union Buildings by 13:00. It will draw at least 100 men from various sectors of society, including government, business, labour, faith-based organisations, not-for-profit organisations and the media, to stop the abuse of women and children.
This is a call to all men to play an active role in preventing violence by joining the march. Together we must eradicate the abuse that undermines the fundamental human rights of women and children. Through our collective action we must declare that abuse is unacceptable.
Our joint action must send a strong message that men must not use positions of power to subjugate women and children. This is the only way we can entrench and inculcate a culture that fully respects the fundamental human rights of women and children in our society.
While it is our wish that all men should be part of the solution by joining the march, we know some will be prevented by other commitments. We therefore appeal to those who cannot join the march to participate by signing an online pledge affirming their support and sharing the details of the #100MenMarch on social media, and to become active endorsers of, and participants in, the drive to stop the scourge of violence.
We should also make it our responsibility to educate ourselves about all forms of abuse, including physical, verbal, sexual, economic and psychological abuse – all of which are a violation of human rights as enshrined in our Constitution.
The march is just the beginning; we should take this active citizenry to our communities. In the spirit of #ThumaMina and the #100MenMarch, we must ask ourselves what is it that we can do to make women and children safer. We can start by reporting street lights that are not working or deal with circumstances that may make women and children more susceptible to crime in our communities.
We should also intervene promptly if a woman or child reports that he or she is being abused. We do not have to approach the perpetrator, but we can simply call the police or an ambulance if the victim needs one. Our actions can go a long way towards preventing most abuse before it even takes place.
Let’s translate the spirit of the #100MenMarch into tangible action and create an environment that is free from violence and abuse.
Williams is the acting director-general at GCIS