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‘We must not be kind to GBV perpetrators’

Staff Reporter

Perpetrators of gender-based violence should not be allowed to continue robbing women and children of their freedom and peace because it destroys them emotionally and denies them the ability to grow and contribute meaningfully to the economy.

This was said by Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Deputy Minister Sdumo Dlamini when he addressed the 150th anniversary of the birth of struggle icon Charlotte Maxeke held at the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Bloemfontein on Thursday.

“We must not be kind to those who practise gender-based violence . . .” he said.

Dlamini said Maxeke – who was a religious, social and political activist – fiercely opposed oppression and patriarchy, adding she remains an inspiration to those who are waging the war against racial oppression and patriarchy.

“We must all make a commitment to defeat gender-based violence . . . law-enforcement agents must come down like a tonne of bricks on those who harm women and children,” he said.

“History will judge us harshly if we do not listen and continue to learn from the experiences of survivors.”

The former trade unionist said recent cases of femicide and child abuse had touched the conscience of the nation and moved all South Africans to stand up and be counted.

He said defeating the unacceptably high levels of gender-based violence requires the collective effort of all South Africans.

“We have heard the cries of women and children as they call for tough and urgent measures to end this scourge . . . as leaders of society, we must make a solemn pledge to liberate our homes, streets, workplaces and every other place from the scourge of gender-based violence,” said Dlamini.

The deputy minister said society must isolate and frown upon those who turn a blind eye and look away from acts of abuse against women and children.

“We can’t allow our streets to be taken over by people who disrespect the rights of women and children,” he said.

“Gender-based violence robes women of the opportunity to become productive citizens of the country.

“It denies them their constitutional rights and condemns them to a life of perpetual fear.

“Violence and a climate of fear tend to prevent them from enjoying the fruits of our freedom and democracy.

“This means gender-based violence undermines our collective effort of building a non-sexist, prosperous and equal society.”

Born on April 7, 1871, Maxeke died on October 16, 1939.

She was the first black South African woman to graduate with a university degree when she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio, United States, in 1903.

Maxeke was also the first black African woman to graduate from an American university.

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