Ramphele Appeals for Mass Action against Gender-Based Violence in SA

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Dr Mamphela Ramphele and Professor Fanie Botha,
Director for College Professional Services (Health
Sciences), at the public lecture.

Dr Mamphela Ramphele, at a UKZN public lecture, said zero-tolerance should be the benchmark to gender-based violence if South Africa honours its Constitution.

The UZKN medical alumnus and Leader of AgangSA spoke on the eve of Women’s Day where she questioned: ‘why do women and children in the country still face the violence and abuse that should have become a thing of the past they (as freedom fighters) fought so hard to escape’.

Ramphele said that South Africa had achieved much since its freedom, ‘above all a constitution that enshrines the right to dignity, freedom and equality for every citizen of our country’.

She said the country’s rape statistics were appalling. Sexual violence against women and children as well as the numbers of men who admitted to having being raped had increased.

The ‘horrific’ level of violence that came with it demonstrated the character of the perpetrator. Women were not just raped and abused; they are often mutilated and murdered.

The heart of the problem, according to Ramphele, is the lack of political will by the South African Government.

‘The quality of any society can be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable: women, children and the aged- those least able to defend themselves.’

The disconnect between the expectations of a male-dominated society and the inability of a large proportion of men to play that role generates rage, self-hatred and its worst brutality and violence – particularly against women and children.’

Women remained “out of place” as leaders in male dominated societies because the more they succeed, men felt threatened and insecure, as a result.

Ramphele called on the spirit of Ubuntu in the way the relationships play out between men and women. She said South Africa was a country of immense potential, but that potential would remain untapped until the power in all of us was unleashed to be the best we can become. 

‘We need to march again, this time against violence against our mothers, daughters and sisters and not just as women but as the whole of society standing together.’

She urged all citizens to stand together and send a message that society would no longer tolerate the stain of gender- based violence. Power in numbers and solidarity for national goals was deemed the driving force in the struggle for freedom.