Faith-based organisations and traditional leaders can play a significant role in South Africa’s efforts to curb soaring levels of gender-based violence, Deputy President David Mabuza said at the weekend.
The Deputy President made the remark during his address at the National Day of Prayer held at the Ellis Park stadium, in Johannesburg, on Saturday.
“We are again confronted once more with the degeneration of human values, immorality, sloth and deviant afflictions,” Deputy President Mabuza said.
“Our country is in the throes of pain, pain at the hands of men, men who grievously abuse the most vulnerable in our society.”
He said the National Day of Prayer was to remind society how far the country had come to build South Africa, “to recount and recalibrate the distance we have travelled to arrive here”.
“Born from the evil experience of racial hatred and discrimination, sexism, and patriarchy, the Constitution enjoins us to give birth to a new society founded on human dignity, non-racialism, and non-sexism,” he said.
Violence perpetrated against women, he said, was an offence against the country’s Constitution.
“Prejudice and discrimination against women is a violation of the Constitution and all that we seek to build as a nation,” he said.
“A nation that undermines the aspirations of women and oppresses them can have no peace, no social cohesion, and no development.
“With August being Women’s Month, the Deputy President said it was apt to use the event to pray against the injustices meted against women.
“It is in their honour that we are here today. It is out of their shrilling cries and winches of pain that we register their call that “enough-is-enough”.
“Many women are suffering. We may not know them. We may never see them but we know they exist, for violence in our nation has a face, the face of a woman,” the Deputy President added.
“In the face of this, they have risen to define themselves as agents of change and nation builders,” he said.
On 1 August, hundreds of women marched to the Union Buildings to demand the end of violence against women and children.
“We have come to the church, to faith-based organisations, to traditional leaders, healers and women organisations, to say we have heard you and to admit that we are a broken society,” Deputy President Mabuza said.
Patriarchy, he said, remains omnipresent in language, idioms, metaphors, stories, myths, and performances.
He added that government was committed to gender parity and equality as a precondition for economic freedom in this lifetime.
“Our empowerment programmes must at all times seek to build social cohesion. They must move from a basis of addressing gender inequality, bring a sense of security for all the vulnerable and address wealth gap that is racial in character,” he said.
“Justice must be done and seen to be done. Where there are abuses in the home, rapists in the church and abusers on university campuses, we will have a zero tolerance attitude to crimes against women and children.
“While we respect the duties of churches to pray and guide, it is the duty of the state to arrest, prosecute and send perpetrators to prison. It is our work to serve and protect.” – SAnews.gov.za