Boy child must also be shown love

Friday, August 18, 2017
More Matshediso

A boy child must be shown love as much as girls are shown love at home and in society, according to men and boys in Soshanguve, north of Tshwane.

During a Religious Leaders’ Dialogue Series and HIV Testing Services Campaign on Thursday, men and boys spoke frankly about social ills that affect them and the impact it has on society.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the dialogue series, which is aimed at promoting HIV testing services, and broadening access to health care services. It was also a platform to address issues of gender-based violence.

Most men felt that many social ills are caused by the lack of present fathers in many families. The mood in the community hall was intense, as panel members and attendants were frank about problems created by boys and men who grow up without guidance from their fathers. Some said growing up without a father figure in the household created issues for them and other men in their community.

From ill-treating women and having improper sexual behaviour, to gender-based violence and abuse of alcohol and drugs, men felt that issues facing South Africa today would be the opposite had fathers been actively involved in raising their children.

In his capacity as the chair of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), Deputy President Ramaphosa said the dialogue offered men an opportunity to be part of the change they want to see in society.

He said the HIV pandemic will not be defeated if persistent inequality between men and women is not rooted out and addressed. He commended religious leaders for partnering with communities to advance the health of citizens.

“Religious leaders are our most formidable ally in deepening exemplary moral conduct and promoting good sexual behaviour. We look to them to use their places of worship to encourage men to go for testing.

“We have faith in them that increasingly their sermons and counsel will discourage the stigmatisation of people living with HIV and TB. We look to them to continue to give hope and to work for social cohesion. They must remind our men that it is never too late to discard violence and bigotry.”

The Soshanguve community cried out for moral regeneration and yearns for social transformation. It is a community that wants to see children in school.

From the dialogue, the Deputy President picked up that Soshanguve is a community that is angry and frustrated by high levels of drug and alcohol abuse, which fuel the spread of HIV. He said it is a community that is sick and tired of living in fear of criminals.

He pledged government’s commitment to work tirelessly with religious leaders and civil society groups to inculcate positive values and change social behaviour.

“We are determined to bring the necessary interventions to end AIDS and TB related deaths. Over a period of a year, our religious leaders will engage in a series of dialogues with men.

“They will mobilise them to end violence directed at women and children. Today’s event is therefore an important milestone in institutionalising and capacitating a responsive movement of men to address the myriad social challenges that face our communities.”

The Deputy President encouraged men to get tested, get treatment and avoid risky sexual behaviour.

“We urge our children and youth to stay at school and equip themselves with skills and education. As men, it is in our hands to end sexism, patriarchy and violence against women and children.”

Men encouraged each other to talk to each other, young and old, about issues affecting them and advise one another on how to become better persons.

The father-son relationship was also highly encouraged, and it was emphasised that a boy child must be shown love as much as girls are shown love at home and in society.

The Deputy President also said drugs should form part of the school curriculum as much as sexual education is taught. -

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