Jackson Mthembu says it's time to focus on the perpetrators of gender-based violence

07 October 2019 - 11:04
By Unathi Nkanjeni
Jackson Mthembu says it's a mistake to focus on victims rather than perpretators of gender-based violence and femicide.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander Jackson Mthembu says it's a mistake to focus on victims rather than perpretators of gender-based violence and femicide.

Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu says gender-based violence (GBV) campaigns must focus on the perpetrators instead of the victims.

“One of the mistakes we have committed in the past was to focus on the victim, and considering what the victim might have done to attract violence unleashed upon them.

“In that way we inadvertently became accomplices by exonerating the perpetrators of violence, and therefore became unintentionally complicit.

“It is, our collective responsibility to arrest and bring an end to gender-based violence,” says Mthembu.

Speaking at the University of SA (Unisa), where he delivered the fifth annual national development plan (NDP) lecture at the weekend, Mthembu said the focus must be on changing attitudes and perceptions among men, the potential perpetrators of violence, so they can learn to respect women.

“We must appeal to men, in particular, to treat women as their equals. It is now time, more than ever before, for men to lead in the campaign #NotInMyName against  GBV and femicide,” he said.

Gender oppression

Addressing gender-based oppression, Mthembu said the country must not only narrowly focus on economic factors.

“Other discriminatory practices, social norms and stereotypes all play a role in perpetuating gendered oppression.

“We need a deeper analysis and understanding that researchers of the likes of Unisa can assist with."

He said there are questions that need answers.

“We need answers to questions such as why is it that as society progresses and the fight for the emancipation of women reaches new heights, have we seen a manifestation of increased brutality against women and girls? What could be the psycho-social causes and wounds that may be festering in society, and yet are not visible in our ordinary course of life?” he asked.

Gender equality

Mthembu said in order for there to be gender equality, change needed to happen.

“The culture of patriarchy and toxic masculinity have been entrenched in our society. We can enact legislation after legislation, adopt progressive policies and programmes, like the NDP, but it takes much more to change perceptions, attitudes and behaviour.

“Incidents of bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace are prevalent, and these must be thrashed whenever they manifest,” said Mthembu.