There can be no real reconciliation nor can South Africa be a nation at peace with itself, if the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) continues.

These were the remarks of Sport, Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa who delivered the keynote address during the National Day of Reconciliation celebrations at Cillie Sports Ground, in Kakamas outside Upington in the Northern Cape.

The Minister used the opportunity to address the scourge of GBVF in South Africa, which saw a peak during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mthethwa said that in dealing with this pandemic, the country has been rudely awakened to the persistence of patriarchy and its various manifestations – most notably in terms of gender based violence and femicide.

He noted that as most of the country was under lockdown, many women and children unfortunately found themselves trapped without reprieve in homes with their abusers.

“We remain committed to dealing with this scourge which we have since dubbed ‘the second pandemic.’ It is this reason that we now have the National Strategic Plan against Gender-Based Violence and have instructed all government departments and state entities to institute strategic measures to tackle this scourge,” he said on Thursday.

The Minister acknowledged that government alone will not succeed in eliminating this scourge since it is rife in private spaces meaning that closer cooperation of communities and families with law enforcement agencies is absolutely critical.

“Too often the perpetrators of gender-based violence are those known by the victims. This calls for joint efforts by all in ensuring that women and children begin to enjoy safer spaces and are guaranteed the same personal freedoms and safety as their male counterparts.”

Mthethwa has made a special appeal to state agencies and civil society groups to intensify engagements with men and boys so that they become an integral part of the struggle against gender-based violence.

“It is about time that men and young boys shoulder the responsibility for ending gender-based violence and femicide,” he said.

Source: South African Government News Agency